Friday, March 13, 2009

Small farmers say requiring animal identification would hurt them, help big lobbying interests

The National Animal Identification System, in which farms tag their livestock, was debated by the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. The chair, Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson, supports requiring the system for all farms, saying it would allow for better monitoring of animal disease. But many small farmers say the measure would cause hardship for them, while protecting larger agribusinesses, says the Daily Yonder. (Read more)

In an op-ed piece for The New York Times, Shannon Hayes estimates the hardware alone required to implementing NAIS on her family's small farm near Warnerville, N.Y., would equal 10 percent of the farm's current operating costs. She goes on to detail other costs and hardships the system would place on the farm. "The burden for a program that would safeguard agribusiness interests would be disproportionately shouldered by small farmers, rural families and consumers of locally produced food. Worse yet, that burden would force many rural Americans to lose our way of life," she writes.

Hayes also notes who she believes the NAIS would help: "It would help exporters by soothing the fears of foreign consumers who have shunned American beef. Other beneficiaries would include manufacturers of animal tracking systems that stand to garner hefty profits for tracking the hundreds of millions of this country’s farm animals. It would also give industrial agriculture a stamp of approval despite its use of antibiotics, confinement and unnatural feeding practices that increase the threat of disease." (Read more)

No comments: