Sunday, November 2, 2008

NAIS - Bad news for sustainable agriculture

While the left is watching the election and the war and impeachment issues and global warming issues, they have missed - entirely - the IMMEDIATE threat to their own food supply and to our "real" farmers who are being pushed to the brink on purpose, our only hope for sustainable agriculture.

For some reason, liberals who distrust the government (and not just this one) when it comes to corporations running the energy department or making drug policy for Medicare or using contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater, and sees through lies to who profits, are utterly naive and trusting of the USDA and FDA about food scares.

They see through threats of "domestic terrorism" as ploys to allow us to be spied on as well as to shift massive control over to the government, gutting our constitution, but they jump about food scares just like the right wing jumps about terrorism warnings. The threat of "food born diseases" is being used in exactly the same way.

We should all recognize something is fishy when regulations are being heavily pushed "for food safety" and corporations want them. And who is pushing them? The very ones responsible for the revolting conditions in feedlots and animal factories and who block inspections. And that includes the USDA which not only won't inspect but will not allow farmers to pay for independent inspection.

So, something is VERY fishy at the outset with the National Animal Identification System - NAIS. I'll explain in moment what it is but "anything" being changed right now before the election, when everyone is distracted, should make us wary. Especially when it is something huge and coming in purely as a regulatory maneuver and not something that has ever been voted on.

Under cover of the election, NAIS, which was promoted as voluntary, was just made mandatory.

NAIS is a USDA regulation that would require the registering of ALL property with any farm animals on it with the USDA, and that global tracking tags be inserted under the skin of every farm animal. The data would feed into a corporate data bank from which agribusiness could watch the moves of every farm animal (chicken, duck, guinea, lama, cow ...) in the country and thus the moves of every farmer.

Ever dream of getting a bit of land and a few chickens and disappearing into peace and quiet. Give that up. You will be mandatorily signed on, without wanting to, without agreeing to, a system that will track you and which will punish you if your chicken accidentally crosses the road and you don't report it within 24 hours. Do that again, and your life is ruined.

It makes NSA-spying look like a walk in the park. There, you don't have to pay for the equipment used to spy on you or maintain it or fear if you accidentally slip out of range or punish you if you don't follow the "rules" with draconian fines that not only would take all you own but destroy your family's generations of livelihood. With NSA-spying, you can pretend you are still free. Not so for farmers.

NAIS is meant to wreck the few farmers we have left.  A single infraction could do that. And farmers, who care about their independence, who are living on the margin as it is, know how deadly NAIS is.

It will destroy all possibility for sustainable agriculture.  It will be a triumph of massive control by industrial agriculture.

Farmers filed suit against the USDA this summer.
"... existing programs for diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis and scrapie together with state laws on branding and the existing record keeping by sales barns and livestock shows provide the mechanisms needed for tracking any disease outbreaks.

... the suit charges that USDA has never published rules regarding NAIS, in violation of the Federal Administrative Procedures Act; has never performed an Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental Assessment as required by the National Environmental Policy Act; is in violation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act that requires the USDA to analyze proposed rules for their impact on small entities and local governments; and violates religious freedoms guaranteed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

"Other mandatory implementations, which weave NAIS into existing regulatory fabric and programs, have occurred in the States of Wisconsin and Indiana where premises registration has been made mandatory; in drought-stricken North Carolina and Tennessee, where farmers have been required to register their premises in order to obtain hay relief; and in Colorado where state fairs are requiring participants to register their premises under NAIS," explained Judith McGeary, a member of the Farm-to-Consumer Fund board and the executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.

"We are asking the court to immediately halt implementation of the program nationwide before more farmers and ranchers are strong-armed into participating in a program that the USDA has called voluntary."

McGeary also questioned the accuracy of the existing database noting that an attempt by the USDA to make the information in the NAIS database subject to Privacy Act safeguards thereby removing them from public scrutiny was suspended indefinitely in a ruling last month by the same federal court that will hear arguments in the current suit. That suit had been filed by a journalist seeking access to the database to determine its accuracy."

The lawsuit has not stopped the Bush administration's USDA from shifting to a full mandatory system right before the end of his term. Is that not enough to make us sit up and take notice? Is complete control over all farmland and livestock by corporately run USDA not enough to make the left question the knee-jerk reactions to "food scares"? Or to wonder about how the public is revved up to want more regulations ... which the corporations want, too?

Industrial agriculture gave us Mad Cow disease and its unregulated practices abroad of spreading waste from millions of chickens is linked to Bird Flu and in neither is the USDA pushing for regulating the filth and cruelty. NAIS gives them (through the USDA) control over their competition and the ability to wipe any one of them out in an instant.

The WMD trick is being played again, around food.

If you look at what is happening in California and Pennsylvania right now with fresh milk (straight from the cow), and understand that sustainable agriculture and any true farming community depends on dairies, you'll begin to see the larger picture and the moves being made to eliminate independent (non-corporate) farming just when liberals are expecting, like surprising Pollyannas, for sustainable agriculture to come waltzing in because it is good (and it is) and solve things.

We see how fear is used in all other arenas and even laugh at the right wing for not seeing the game they are jerked around by. But meanwhile liberals are being set up to jump on cue at "bacteria" and to be grateful for government protection.

I keep being reminded of how Germans used fear of germs and racial "hygiene" to get rid of Jews. There is something about the drive for total purity that is killing whereas multiculturalism, biodiversity, or a good healthy mix of bacteria, are about thriving life.

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