Friday, September 30, 2005

National ID System

... for animals?

That's right. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is promoting a National Animal Identification System, (NAIS), stating that the "USDA’s ultimate goal is to create an effective, uniform national animal tracking system that will help maintain the health of U.S. herds and flocks."[1]

To aid in tracking what it considers to be "livestock" animals, the USDA hopes to make this program mandatory by 2008. It includes requiring owners of any livestock (cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, etc.), to report their location and receive a premises ID. The premises ID is a unique identifier for a property that houses any livestock. The federal government will enter all information about a property and the property owner that it believes is relevant to aid in tracking the property owner's animals. Additionally, "animals will be identified either individually with a unique Animal Identification Number (AIN) or, if they are managed and moved through the production chain as a group, with a Group/Lot Identification Number (GIN)."[2]

"There are essentially four pieces of information required to document an animal movement event. The [list] below shows the four pieces of information that will be stored in a national animal records repository:
1. National Animal Records Repository—Data Elements
2. Animal Identification Number, AIN, or Group/Lot Identification Number, GIN
3. Premises Identification Number, PIN, of the location where the event takes place
4. Date of the event
5. Event type (movement in, movement out, sighting of an animal at a location, termination of the animal, etc)"[3] The above list is by no means inclusive, as each of the five elements contain its own data requirements.

According to Mary Zanoni, Ph.D., J.D., Executive Director of Farm for Life, "Every animal will have to be assigned a 15-digit ID number, also to be kept in a giant federal database. The form of ID will most likely be a tag or microchip containing a Radio Frequency Identification Device, designed to be read from a distance. (Plan, p. 10; St., pp. 6, 12, 20, 27-28.) The plan may also include collecting the DNA of every animal and/or a retinal scan of every animal. (Plan, p.13.)The owner will be required to report: the birthdate of an animal, the application of every animal’s ID tag, every time an animal leaves or enters the property, every time an animal loses a tag, every time a tag is replaced, the slaughter or death of an animal, or if any animal is missing. Such events must be reported within 24 hours."[4]

Guess who is promoting the NAIS the most?

It's not those "small farmers" that politicians always proclaim they must protect. It is the big companies, including but not limited to, the National Pork Producers, Monsanto Company, and Cargill Meat. Why would they impose such restrictions on themselves? Quite simply, they want to drive out their competition through forcing the small farmer's cost of raising animals to rise. (For example of how this reasoning works, see my previous post, Think Like a Lobbyist).

Additional analysis to why this is a violation of property rights is to follow.

to be continued ...

[1] Premises ID Factsheet
[2] Animal ID
[3] Ibid.
[4] Mary Zanoni, Ph.D., J.D. Why You Should Oppose the USDA’s Mandatory Property and Animal Surveillance Program


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