Friday, May 22, 2009

Hearings under way on National Animal ID System

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been holding hearings across the country for the past week, welcoming livestock producers and others to share their thoughts on the National Animal Identification System, which is voluntary but could become mandatory. Most information exchanged at such meetings has usually been said before, but in the Daily Yonder Richard Oswald gives a thoguhtful take on the situation.

Oswald writes that agriculture "is already an open book." The National Agricultural Statistics Service and USDA conduct a public census of agriculture producers each year, complete with tracking of what is grow, how much is grown, and the number of acres used. The key argument for an animal ID system appears to be food safety and accountability, but Oswald scoffs at that logic, because of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration. "If they can’t find bacteria in a packing plant, what difference will a radio frequency tag on a live chicken make?"

Animal owners object to the cost of tagging and claim a mandatory system would invade privacy. Oswald sees the program as a partnership between government and business, one is that is "looking more and more like big brother peeking over our shoulder. As government employees leave regularly for high paying corporate jobs and administrations regularly make government appointments to corporate insiders ... you just have to wonder how many keys there are to the vault." (Read more)

Hearings have been held in Harrisburg, Pa.; Pasco, Wash.; Austin, Texas; Birmingham, Ala.; and one is being held in Louisville, Ky., today. Others will be held in Storrs, Conn., May 27; Loveland, Colo., June 1; Jefferson City, Mo., June 9; Rapid City, S.D, June 11; Albuquerque, N.M., June 16; Riverside, Calif., June 18; Raleigh, N.C., June 25; and Jasper, Fla., June 27.

1 comment:

Walter Jeffries said...

More listening sessions have been scheduled. See this post here.