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Letter to NC Ag dept. about NAIS

March 27, 2009 1 comment

Mo Chix
Originally uploaded by baldwinmk

I had sent a letter to the governer, stating my views on the NAIS legislation (Docket No. APHIS-2007-0096) which the USDA is trying to force through as “a matter of national security” using the USA Patriot Act. Here is the response I received, along with my reply to it.
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Mr. Matt Baldwin;
Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns with regards to the National Animal ID System or NAIS. Let me assure you that domestic pets such as dogs and cats will not be part of any national identification system. As you correctly point out, the focus of the system is on food producing animals. The ability to trace our food source to the farm of origin has become especially important in light of the challenges faced with the seemingly endless news reports of tainted food, recalls and health risks from intentional and accidental contaminates. The growing trend to eat locally produced food, including the “Got To Be NC” program, can take advantage of a proven system of traceability in promoting our North Carolina products and the many farms that produce those products.
Another focus of the national identification system that closely relates to traceability is the ability to quickly identify, locate, and eradicate disease in our livestock populations. The more rapid the response the more quickly we can return to our everyday practices that involve animal agriculture. Although horses are used for a variety of non-food purposes in this country, they none-the-less can pose disease risks, especially when involved in activities where there are large numbers and come from wide regions of this country and abroad. The horse industry has recently demanded traceability in such diseases as EHV-1 and Contagious Equine Metritis, where the mobile nature of the equine industry transports the potential for serious and foreign animal diseases throughout the country in a short period of time with devastating economic and health effects.
We realize that “we’re from the government and we’re here to help” does not create a sense of security in most people. Yet the purpose behind a uniform, national animal identification program of providing a rapid response to any disaster or disease outbreak that is necessary maintain the strength and viability of animal agriculture is more crucial today than ever before. I would encourage you to take the time to go beyond the emotional driven rhetoric of the anti-NAIS crowd and investigate the system that is gaining widespread approval and acceptance around the world and in our state and nation. At NCDA&CS we believe that NAIS truly promotes animal health, food safety and human health, and so do almost 13,000 fellow North Carolinians who have registered the farms and premises.

Tom Ray, DVM, MPH
Director of Animal Health Programs-Livestock
NCDA&CS, Veterinary Division
2 W Edenton St., 1030 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1030
(919) 733-xxxx office
(919) 733-xxxx fax
tom.ray@ncagr.gov
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Here is my reply
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Mr. Ray –
Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my concerns regarding the proposed NAIS legislation. I really appreciate your response, but I still strongly disagree with this legislation, or at least with the way it is currently written. Not due to emotionally driven rhetoric, but just plain facts. Conversely, the public food supply contamination news stories you refer to seem to fuel more emotionally driven rhetoric than factual discussion about NAIS. Below are some facts that I feel deserve futher review, before the NAIS legislation should be seriously considered.

1) You say “The ability to trace our food source to the farm of origin has become especially important in light of the challenges faced with the seemingly endless news reports of tainted food, recalls and health risks from intentional and accidental contaminates.”. I honestly do not see how the NAIS legislation helps prevent this tainted food, as most of the tainted food recalls were due to food becoming tainted AFTER THEY LEFT THE FARM, and tracing the contamination back to the farm seems a waste of time. Isn’t there a mechanism already in place (USDA inspections of slaugherhouses) that is supposed to stop contaminated foods from entering the US food supply? By instituting redundant government programs, isn’t this a waste of the taxpayer’s money?
2) I do not see the purpose of the NAIS legislation (as it is currently written) and how it applies to small local farmers that sell directly to the public. When a farmer sells an animal to a customer, there is no need for “farm of origin” tracing. The consumer knows where the animal came from, and if there is a problem with the animal, the consumer knows where to go. The NAIS legislation really seems to be aimed at large corporate farms, and is too much of a “one size fits all” attempt of a solution.
3) As a food producer myself, we raise a large amount of our family’s food; such as eggs and meat, not to sell, but to consume in our home. The way the NAIS legislation is currently written would require our family to register our home with the government as a farm, obtain a Premise ID, and pay all the associated fees and use taxes. It would also require the filling out of government forms any time there is a birth, death, attack by coyote, etc., and pay a fee each time a form is submitted. As the food my family raises is for home consumption, and never enters the public food supply, I do not see how thusly applying the NAIS legislation protects the public. Our family has made the choice to raise our own food, and we feel confident that the food that we raise is just as safe and healthy, if not more so, than food purchased at the store. We do not feel it necessary to have the government monitor, inspect, or otherwise interfere with the way that produce our food, especially if in means that we foot the bill for the government’s “help”.

I feel that the NAIS legislation is not being written with the small farmer, or home food producer in mind. It appears to me that large corporate farms would be the benefactor, and the legislation would hinder, or possibly even prevent small-scale agriculture. By including home food producers, and small, direct-to-the-public farms in the NAIS legislation, it appears that the federal government is attempting to invade the privacy of its citizens, and subject them to unnecessary regulation. I urge you to push for exemptions for the 2 groups above, and further examine the NAIS legislation.

Thank you,

Matt Baldwin
http://thebaldwingang.blogspot.com/
“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
— Dwight Eisenhower

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No more grass, just veggies

March 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Anyone wanna buy a riding mower 🙂

We have 2 riding mowers, and a lot less to mow this year! With the back yard turned into goat pasture, and the front yard becoming 100% raised beds; I may be able to get away with using a pair of scissors to mow from now on.

But seriously – it’s really neat getting everyone to work together as a family on the raised beds project, all 4 of the rugrats pitched in to help, and even managed to sorta work together, in the strange way that kids do.

It’s SO hard waiting for spring to arrive fully here. We’ve had several ‘teaser’ weekends, and it just makes it harder to wait. Our friend brought his tractor over and tilled the lower garden this week, we’re planning on putting in a bunch of extra corn this year, hopefully we can grow more of our own feed for the chickens and ducks. The price of feed seems to be going nowhere but up. We’re planning on raising a pig next year too, so we’ll really need to put in a lot of corn for a bacon-machine. Anyway, I’ll share more in a later post – hope y’all are getting some tastes of spring too.

Until next time…..

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18 more days……

March 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Until spring. whew, hope we can make it. had a “NC Blizzard” last night and today, dropped about 4-5 inches of the white stuff on the ground. Just enough to build a snow-man (snow-blob?).
The usual collection of clueless drivers hit the roads today, I think I pushed about 5 cars up the hill on the way to the office. Guess people just don’t understand that you can’t stop when attempting to go up an ice-covered hill.
But… we do have some roma tomatoes started from seed. I found a really neat way to turn old newspapers into little pots to start seeds in, and we now have baby ‘mater plants. Hope spring gets here soon!!!!

Until next time…..

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