February 9, 2007
Shocking but true story
By Jim Babka
Today's Downsizer-Dispatch... Today, we have a shocking but true story and a media announcement.

The story below is true. If the United States Department of Agriculture behaves like this now, we can only imagine how much worse it will get under the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). You can tell Congress to stop NAIS by clicking here.

It was a good deal . . . 

In June, 2005 Darol Dickinson of the Dickinson Cattle Co. in Barnesville, Ohio was given the opportunity to purchase 472 Texas Longhorn cattle from a retiring producer in Oklahoma. The herd was allowed to stay at the Oklahoma ranch for up to a year, and Dickinson had begun selling the cattle to buyers across the U.S. In January, 2006 a cow named Rosey Barb was sold to a man in Dundee, Ohio.

Then in August, the man in Ohio was visited by a USDA investigator. What was the problem?

When Rosey Barb was sold, an Oklahoma veterinarian had signed a state-issued health certificate for her, but (horrors) left out an ID number.

Apparently, when the state of Ohio received their carbon copy of the certificate, it was flagged for not having an ID number. Because this was an interstate transaction, the feds were contacted to investigate this heinous crime. Please note that there wasn't any question as to Rosey Barb's actual health, only the fact that an ID number was left off a piece of paper.

Five months later -- just a few weeks ago -- the USDA followed-up with Darol Dickinson, who had sold Rosey Barb. They handed Dickinson the health certificate. They wondered why Dickinson hadn't noticed what was wrong with this filing?

They had other questions as well, including . . .  Could he name the driver who illegally transported Rosey Barb from Oklahoma to Ohio without proper paperwork? Dickinson was required to fill out several forms detailing his "crime" and was told that the vet who inspected Rosey Barb would undergo a hearing with his license at stake.

But, take a look at the certificate. It is found here.

Under the box "Eartag no. or other official identification, NAME or description" you can see "Rosey Barb" clearly typed. If the state wanted the eartag number and only the eartag number, why would they say "or other official identification, name, or description?"

Darol Dickinson's account of the story is found here.

Our staff researcher has followed up on this story. We've learned that Dickinson left out that the same thing happened to him 25 years ago in Colorado; he received a visit from the USDA because one animal’s health certificate was supposedly filled out incorrectly. But we don't think that fact is significant, because . . . 

These investigations are not the exception, they are the rule. Tracking down faulty filers of paperwork is a very large chunk the USDA does. Sure, there's the rhetoric about protecting the food supply and insuring the health of the animals. But this is how your tax dollars are really spent.

For either Dickinson or the veterinarian to get in even the slightest bit of trouble over Rosey Barb would be a terrible injustice. After all, who was hurt? The buyer? The seller? Mr. Dickinson, the broker? Rosey Barb?

Even if both Dickinson and the vet were "let off the hook," we must spotlight the sheer waste of time and money of this investigation -- and the hundreds of others, just like it, that are conducted by the USDA each year.

And this is _before_ NAIS has even been implemented!

NAIS will force owners of farm animals, even non-farmers who keep them as pets, to obtain a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) number for each animal they own. This Mark of the Beast -- this number -- will become more important to the farmer than even the health of his animals. And the USDA will have greater power and mandate to clamp down on small, family farmers over silly technicalities.

Here's what is already expected under the USDA's NAIS regime:

* Goats, chickens, and cattle, like Rosey Barb (who has innocently caused enough trouble already), will be assigned a tag for which her owner will have to pay as much as $20.

* Every time an animal moves beyond the premises it is normally kept, its owner will have to file a report. Cow wanders off, falls in a ditch: result is every farmer and rancher whose property the cow crossed will also have to report, every day until the cow has been restored back to its owner's property. Failure to do so, could result in $1,000 per incident, per day fines.

* Enforcing NAIS will cost countless billions every year, and terrorists could destroy it all by hacking into the system.

* Despite its claims, NAIS will actually put us at greater risk of terrorism and diseased food.

* In part, this is because the mandates are issued in a way that puts a much, much greater burden on small farmers than it does on huge corporate farms and their inbred populations. This smells like a corporate welfare bill if there ever was one.

* And as Rosey Barb’s story tells us, USDA enforcement is wasteful enough as it is.

We must not make that problem worse by burdening our nation’s four million farmers with even more mandatory filing and paperwork. We must insist that the new Congress dismantle the NAIS program.

At present, the USDA is working through state governments, with assistance from big Agri-business concerns. They've also devised a voluntary "premises ID," where they're inducing farmers to register with promises of special benefits, as well as appeals to patriotic duty in these times of terrorism.

Congress will be considering a major new agricultural bill this year. And so this matter is somewhat urgent.

Please, go to our anti-NAIS campaign page and tell Congress end all implementation of the NAIS program, including premises ID, at the federal level, as well as prohibit the USDA from spending any more resources to get it enacted in the various states. 

Rosey Barb will thank you.

** Media Announcement **

Also, I'm on the radio again today for my regular Friday appearance with Jerry Hughes.

This show is a great opportunity to spread the DC Downsizer message. Please support this show. Help us create "buzz!" You can do so by listening, but especially by calling-in or sending an email.

The toll-free call-in number is: 1-866-222-2368
The email is: Jerry at AccentRadio dot com

Time: 3:00 PM Eastern, 2:00 PM Central, 1:00 PM Mountain, Noon Pacific

Length: 1 hour
Host: Jerry Hughes
Show: Straight Talk w/ Jerry Hughes
Click Winamp or Windows Media Playerm, as appropriate.

You can listen to the show in more than 20 markets. A complete list of "affiliates" is available here.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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