Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Orwellian Double-Speak from the USDA

Well, guess what popped into my mailbox last night from the USDA?
The following is a response to your inquiry regarding the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

As a *consumer* I would like to go on record stating that there is much good within the NAIS idea, but that the program's insistence on uniformity is poorly-considered. A commercial farm is *not* the same as a homesteader keeping chickens or rabbits on his back 20.

Or, if there's to be uniformity, let it be REAL uniformity, and let the 4H kids and the homesteaders share in the possibility of using premise tags, rather than having to buy an i.d. tag for every rabbit in the hutch.

If something is not done to allow for the disease-tracking of commercial animals (which I agree is overdue) without providing a regulatory hammer to beat upon small niche producers, then there will be little choice except to organize widespread opposition to NAIS' implementation standards on the state level, as has already begun here in Texas.

Play ball with us, and we're willing to see a lot your way. Write us off, and you're in for a fight. It's that simple.

Thank you for your interest in the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The development and implementation of NAIS has been and continues to be an evolutionary process. The USDA is committed to developing NAIS policy in an open manner that invites feedback (like yours) and input from producers and stakeholders large and small.

[ed.-- Boilerplate, but so far, so good.]

NAIS is currently a voluntary program. The program is now voluntary so that producers of every size and makeup and other stakeholdrs can participate in the design, development and testing of the system. Obviously, the effectiveness of the NAIS will be directly related to the level of participation by all producers and stakeholders to include mid, small and hobby farmers. We are not taking a one size fits all approach to development of the program.

[ed. -- Uh-oh. Doublespeak: NAIS' own site indicates that it is currently voluntary, with the intention of becoming mandatory asap. "....voluntary so that producers of every size....can participate in the design...." a.k.a., if you exercise your freedom not to participate, we will not permit you any voice in how the program develops.]

[ed2. -- Flat-out lie: "We are not taking a one size fits all approach..." This is flatly contradicted by NAIS' own website (link further below in post), which touts program uniformity as one of its primary goals.]

How the NAIS will be applied will vary somewhat among the various species and producer groups. Species working groups have been and continue to work very hard to address the specific issues related to applying NAIS to specific groups of animals. They are working on and forwarding their recommendations to USDA on the types of identifications devices to be used, possible exemptions and what constitutes a reportable animal movement event in the NAIS. We encourage you to get involved with these groups. You can find additional information about species working groups at USDA’s NAIS Web site at

NAIS is not intended to track, capture and report every time an animal leaves its premises. Trail rides, a fence break through, and 4-H shows, for example, may not necessarily always be considered a reportable event.

[Ed.-- I have not altered this text in any way. This is Orwelllian "Newspeak" at its finest. "May not necessarily always?" In other words, it's already been decided that, not only must you register your house with the feds if you own a horse or a sheep, but you're going to have to tell them every time you take a trail ride.]

We appreciate and are encouraged by your "willing" spirit. We recognize that a system of this size and complexity needs to be developed with the opportunity for input by those affected. Thank you for taking time to share your concerns regarding this important animal health issue. We will keep concerns such as those you expressed in mind as we continue to work with you and all stakeholders to develop NAIS.

NAIS Program staff

[ed.-- Translated from bureaucratese, thanks for writing in, sucker, but we're going to go ahead and do what we want no matter what you think.]

So, is there anybody here who doesn't think that this constitutes a massive power-grab by the USDA? I don't know what Glenn Reynolds thinks, but right now, the "Army of Davids" is getting its ass kicked. The State of Texas is dragging its feet a bit, but so far as I have been able to determine, the rest of the state governments have rolled over and stuck their butts up in the air. If you're uncomfortable with this, the time to start inundating your state officials and gutless Congresscritters with mail and email is NOW.

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