Important not to confuse beef and cattle, because for those consumers who imagined NAIS's Orwellian plan to chip every single farm animal in the country with a global tracking devise will some how help locate contaminated meat, they need to understand it does no such thing. It doesn't trace beef at all.
Though contamination happens inside the slaughterhouse, the NAIS tracing is only back to living animals on the farm. The "food safety" bills in Congress do nothing to trace contaminated food back to the source, the slaughterhouse.
Pressure is growing again in the US for Congress for a decision on the US national animal identification system (NAIS) - make it mandatory or stop the funding for the current voluntary system.
Last week, House of Representatives agricultural appropriations subcommittee chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.) told US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the NAIS program needed changes - and soon.DeLauro's agribusiness donations increased from $100,000+ in 2006 to $180,000+ in 2008.
During the annual hearing on the President's budget request to fund the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the coming fiscal year, DeLauro noted that for five years and "tens of millions of dollars, (the US voluntary NAIS) has not worked.
We have to have a better way of dealing with this."
The US voluntary animal ID system applies to the big beef cattle and pig industries.
DeLauro has long been an advocate of a mandatory program and criticised the decision to make it voluntary.
The program was presented by Anne Veneman, a Monsanto counsel, when head of the USDA under Bush I. So, it is both a Bush and Monsanto plan. DeLauro, a Democrat who claims to be progressive, is clearly not representing farmers when she pushes it.
At her first appropriations hearing with Vilsack, she put him on the spot, asking if he supports mandatory animal identification.This is a dog and pony show. Vilsack is a supporter of NAIS.
DeLauro noted that her colleague, House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.), already said he does not favor spending more on the program "unless the Obama Administration supports a mandatory system."
Dodging the direct question, Vilsack said, "I am supportive of the effort for an identification system that will allow us to prevent or to mitigate problems."He doesn't acknowledge wanting a mandatory NAIS. It seems unlikely he is going to listen to farmers given that USDA's disregard of so many of their other concerns - the USDA not inspecting for diseases and its pushing to bring in animals from countries where there are active diseases, the six joint USDA/Homeland Security depopulation of animals practice meetings set up to which livestock owners cannot attend, despite his promising transparency. And there is fear that NAIS is a set up to destroy small farmers' stocks of normal animals under an industry caused disease outbreak in order to substitute genetically engineered animals, as is happening in Asia, or in other ways .
He said he wanted to "sit down with those who oppose the mandatory system in the very near term to work through whatever difficulties they have with the privacy or confidentially."
Vilsack expressed a desire "to structure a program that addressed those concerns." Otherwise, he said, a mandatory system could fail because "you could have people spending a lot of time figuring out how to get around it."
To that, DeLauro said: "I'm going to suggest ... that for the last five years, there have been a lot of people figuring out how to get around a voluntary system.
"Why should we continue to appropriate money for a failed system?An excellent question. One that farmers have been asking all along.
We have had ample time to do this, and this is nothing but a continuation of a dilatory tactic," she said.
As an example of the delays, DeLauro reminded Vilsack that USDA announced in March 2007 that it would conduct a cost-benefit study of a voluntary versus mandatory program.
"Two years later, aside from hearing rumors that it's completed, we're still waiting to learn of the results of this study," DeLauro said. "Why are we throwing good money after bad with an industry that doesn't want to move?"
Vilsack has again asked for an opportunity to meet with opponents of NAIS to see if their concerns could be addressed.
"The clock is ticking. [DeLauro]What clock? For what? Who set it? For whom?
"These people"? Our farmers are "these people"?
I don't know how long you're going to need to talk to these people, [DeLauro]
She claims to be a progressive? With such disdain for the concerns of a class of people who have been greatly declining in numbers (1000 a month are the numbers some use, and dairy farmers have been committing suicide). And meanwhile, "these people" are threatened with extinction from NAIS. And she wants a "very short conversation"?
but it needs to be a very short conversation. [DeLauro]
Substitute a black group of people, or women, or any other category of people having a literally destructive CORPORATE program shoved on them, and reread her words and how totalitarian they are. And remember that she gets large PAC funding from the CORPORATE groups who designed the program threatening those farmers.
Five years they've had to talk about it and $142 million, and we have zero to show for it," DeLauro said.
Ms. DeLauro behaves as though she were indistinguishable from the Agribusiness giants who give her money, wanting the results they want, frustrated on their behalf, rather than being an elected official looking out for the interests of American farmers in real jeopardy.
The farmers opposed NAIS from the beginning, didn't want any money spent on it, lobbied against it. The American people knew nothing about it. The money was voted for only because Agribusiness lobbyists got what they wanted, and it was wasted because farmers educated themselves and saw through it to the massive and dangerous corporate scam it is.
Farmers have long suggested the USDA use the money for a necessary and rational purpose (NAIS being lunatic) - spending to put inspectors back on the slaughterhouse floors. This would protect the public from contamination where it occurs, ending the joke that USDA has made of "inspection."
Ms. DeLauro might be well-served to put aside unseemly impatience with "those people" not delivering the corporate results fast enough to satisfy her, and consider what a young woman from her own home state has learned about NAIS, a young woman who does not take PAC money from Agribusiness.
The Fourth Amendment secures privacy and protects citizens from unwanted and unwarranted searches. If the government did make NAIS mandatory, people owning unregistered livestock could be either fined or the animals could be instantly killed if the government deemed it necessary or if they felt that the animals' health was suspicious. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution states "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property." Animals are a person's property just the same as, say, a house or land. Making a person give up this privilege or forcing a person to disobey their religion is a complete disregard of the Constitutional amendments.
After all, even the Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Schafer referred to the USDA as "Big Brother" (Transcript 8).