Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rosa DeLauro, no friend of farmers, is tired of their "foot dragging"

Rosa DeLauro who receives one of the largest amounts of money from Agribusiness of anyone in Congress, said "in a phone interview on Tuesday that she has "lost patience for a voluntary system that has registered only 35 percent of U.S. Livestock facilities over five years and received $142 million in funding." [From the AP]

The actual number is less than 10% . But even with the USDA inflating the number 3 and 1/2 times, it's still obvious small farmers who are already threatened in this country, don't want it.

As a self-described progressive who claims to care about small farmers, has it occurred to her to listen to what farmers want and need for themselves?  Has she noticed that farmers across the country detest and fear NAIS?  Has she seen that they feel this to such a degree that they have created anti-NAIS chapters in every state?  
Is she aware they have been asking the USDA for clarification many times over those same five years, over whether Premises ID portion of NAIS is actually a take over of their farmland?  Is she aware that Emmanuel Miller, an Amish man in Wisconsin where there is a religious exemption written into the law, is still being sued for not signing on?  

Is she aware that the Organic Consumers Association and its 850,000 progressive members are strongly opposed to NAIS, and with sane and sound reasons the video describes, as opposed to the "lunatic " program Jim Hightower, the former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, calls NAIS.  

"We are tired of the foot-dragging on this issue," said DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat. "We need to move forward on this."

Who is the "we," Ms. Delauro refers to?  Monsanto?  Tysons?  Cargill?  ADM?  All of whom were part of devising the program through their corporate association known as the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA)?

Certainly not the small farmers in this country who have been working desperately for the last five years to fend off NAIS, a program they see clearly will crush them.  

Whom does Ms. DeLauro represent when she says "we"?  On whose behalf is she so openly disgusted with farmers who are doing all they can to save their farms and livelihoods and in some cases, lives, by NOT signing on?  

It doesn't take a lot to see that if the government has thrown millions into forcing them onto NAIS and still they are resisting, something must be very wrong with the program.  (And why was that money not spent on USDA inspectors who are in such short supply that inspectors call the job "just a joke" ?)  

The Premises ID portion, which is supposed to be about tracking animals back to farms in case of animal disease, for some reason includes mapping global coordinates of the farmers' land.  Why?  They have addresses.  They can be found.  How is the size and shape of land related to locating anyone?  Even if a farmer (or any of us) owns only a single chicken, they are supposed to sign on.  And if they get rid of the chicken, the land remains recorded ... within a corporate data bank ... which is being held outside the country in Canada ... where the Freedom of Information Act can't access it.  

Ms. DeLauro, what is really involved here?  "Premises" is an international term which appears to change a farmer from an "owner" to a mere "stake holder" in his own land.  Farmers have sent many, many formal requests to Bush's USDA and Obama's and cannot get an answer.  They fear their land is being taken using animal disease as a cover.  Until farmers have a guarantee they are not being forced onto a contract that steals their land out of from under them, what do you expect them do besides foot drag?  

Even urban people are buying chickens to raise for eggs - whether because of economic collapse, or out of the pleasure of learning about farming.  Do you really expect us all to be trapped onto NAIS, to face fines of up to a million dollars a day and ten years in prison for not recording every move a child makes with their new chick by taking it off the "premise" to "co-mingle" with the kitten next door as the child shows a friend?  Do you expect us all to be subject to prison terms for not recording a trip to school with a duck for show and tell?  Do you expect us all to have our property mapped into a corporate data bank, coordinates taken of it, and easements put on our land to allow for warrantless government entry (all part of NAIS and Premises ID) because we get a bunny?  

This country is facing collapse.  We need our farmers.  Industrial food in increasingly dangerous.  We need our farmers.  We don't want genetically engineered food.  We need our farmers.

How can you call yourself a progressive and treat our farmers as you are doing, forcing them onto a program that Michael Pollan says flat out, will destroy them?  

"Instead of seizing on these threats as a reason to decentralize our food supply, the government is bringing in more regulation and technology. 

Progressive senators are proposing that we begin to regulate farms the way we regulate meat plants. That will put small farms out of business. So you see what happens as industrial agriculture fails and sickens us. The solutions promote more industrialization of agriculture. 

A progressive is supposed to stand with the little guy against corporations, not take money from Agribusiness and wipe out the small farmer.  A progressive is supposed to protect threatened classes of people like our farmers.  A progressive is supposed to defend our environment from pesticides and GMOs and CAFOs.  

Those of us who have looked even cursorily into NAIS don't buy the nonsense about animal disease protection - especially not when the USDA is ready to let in animals from countries where there is active disease and it being farmers trying to stop that.  In fact, in Asia, animal diseases caused by multinational agribusiness is being used to eliminate small farmers' normal animal stocks so genetically engineered ones can be substituted .  We don't want that to happen here though the FDA appears to be setting up for it .

Ms. DeLauro, the reality is that true progressives, conservative farmers, liberal organic farmers, foodies, lovers of farmers and farmers markets, and all those who care about animals and recognize our small farmers are the ones protecting our biodiversity in animals, don't want NAIS

You are pushing a plan that it a clear threat to our small farmers, while criticizing them for not marching faster to their demise.  

Instead, have sympathy for why they are balking and join the rest of us in getting rid of NAIS entirely.  

You'll have farmers' undying gratitude.  And our thanks for saving their lives, and with them and their clean food and normal animals, all of our lives and future.  

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