The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

No Accident NAIS Opponents Outnumber Supporters at Listening Sessions

by Stewart Doan

Opponents of USDA’s National Animal Identification System far outnumbered supporters at the eight animal ID listening sessions held so far. It turns out that’s not by accident.

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance Executive Director, Judith McGeary, confirms her group is working with the National Family Farm Coalition and other small farm advocacy groups to encourage anti-NAIS turnout at the listening sessions, and she is pleased with the results thus far. “The simple fact is that small farmers, people who own a few animals, consumers, we are the majority by a huge percentage, in terms of number of people. And we’ve been loud enough and strong enough that USDA has agreed that it needs to, at the very least, give the appearance of paying attention to those concerns.”

McGeary spoke on the Austin stop of the national listening tour and submitted about 2,000 pages of petition signatures in opposition to NAIS in either a voluntary or mandatory form. In addition to farmers and consumers, anti-government and anti-globalization activists are showing up at the meetings too.

Irene Lin, National Family Farm Coalition Policy Analyst, says, “Some of our folks do work with some of these people who concerns from a property rights angle, or the religious angle. So they are working together where they can. Our opposition to the animal id program is a little different than theirs, but we welcome any sort of coalition to try to stop it.”

The few speakers who have expressed support for a mandatory id system mainly represented state animal health agencies, cattle feeders, and hog farmers affiliated with the National Pork Producers Council.

Lin called on Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to use the animal ID listening tour to kill the National Animal Identification System, not try to fix it.

“I don’t see how you can have 80-90 percent people showing up opposing this thing, and you somehow completely discount all the criticism and just say too bad guys, we’re going to do a mandatory program whether you like it or not. So I would hope that democracy can prevail in this instance.”

While Vilsack personally has attended only two of the eight sessions held thus far, a USDA spokesman says he’s reviewed transcripts of each meeting. Seven more sessions are planned between June 1st and June 25th in Loveland, Colorado; Jefferson City, Missouri; Rapid City, South Dakota; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Riverside, California; Tallahassee, Florida; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

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