ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION MOVES FOWARD
Friday, May 15th, 2009 -- 2:58 pm
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director
Wisconsin livestock owners already have to register their properties with the state, but many groups are fighting for the next step.
Beginning this week, the United State Department of Agriculture is holding hearings around the country on the National Animal Identification System, or NAIS.
"(It's) focused mainly on disease," explains Gil Hammerschmidt, USDA-APHIS/NAIS coordinator, "It's an activity that will allow us to identify animals and track and record their movements."
In theory, it will allow for a "more timely" response to animal disease events, Hammerschmidt says.
Animal ID is the second part of a three-step modernization process. The first being premise registration, the third is animal tracing.
Hammerschmidt says animal identification could work several different ways; including placing traceable chips in livestock.
"The key is having a unique animal ID number, so we can link that number to a premises or location." he says. "There's certainly advantages in certain species to utilize radio frequency radio frequency technology."
But, in large scale poultry operations, a 'group lot' number might be implemented.
While many producer groups support the concept, others fear an overbearing government.
Many Clark County Amish farmers refuse to comply with premise registration, saying it will lead to the tagging of all animals, or the biblical ‘Mark of the Beast.’
Clark County’s District Attorney, Darwin Zwieg, filed the first test case for the law in Clark County Circuit Court. The Amish farmer, Emmanuel Miller, Jr., of Loyal, will go before the court in July.
"That electronic ID number will feed into an international database. Our members see this as a part of the Mark of the Beast system," says Pete Kennedy, Interim President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which opposes NAIS.
"(NAIS) establishes a universal system of control I was warned about in the Book of Revelation."
Plus, he says the system will prove too costly for small farmers, likely driving them out of business, and won’t really help animal health.
While there may be some good intentions on the part of producers, Kennedy also
"There's a lot of money to be made," he says. "You have these chip manufacturers who have made millions of dollars from this program."
"There are basically two food systems in this country right now: the industrial food system, and the local food system. This program is a competitive advantage for the industrial food system," Kennedy claims.
We’ll play our interviews with Hammerschmidt and Kennedy on Tuesday’s In Depth program.
USDA's NAIS page
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