Concentration in Agriculture Continues to Rise

This is a great article that helps to illustrate issues that truly affect family farmers. The USDA fails to enforce the anti-trust acts on the books that are supposed to protect the most vital part of our economy from control in the hands of a few. Now people might argue that it is against capitalism to protect the economy from concentration, but the truth is that it is impossible to have a healthy economy with excessive consolidation.

When access to market, seeds to plant, fertilizer to use, and prices received are all controlled, there IS no free market. Such is the case in the vast majority of agriculture. This scenario leads to the proliferation of biotech as they are the ones with the most money in their pockets and, as evidenced by the Monsanto Protection Act insertion into the Ag appropriations extension and Blunt admitting he “did it for Monsanto”, it should be clear that this topic is extremely important for our health and well being.

The “Missouri Monsanto Protection Act” will lead to even more concentration in this State. Representative Jason Smith, the sponsor of HJR 11 and 7, is insisting that the bill will save farmers from undo regulation at the hands of HSUS. However, the group that evidently pushed him to sponsor this tripe has some pretty obvious issues with their listed members. That group is Missouri Farmers Care. Not all of their members are in the column of the nasty and nefarious, but enough of them are that it certainly implicates the group as being a shill for the biotech industry while running under a deceptive title pretending they “care” about small family farms. Just have a look at their membership page.

Currently, Monsatan (Monsanto) owns the lion’s share of the global seed market. In the US, it is even more concentrated than in other nations. The question for the Missouri legislators (and Montana, Delaware, Indiana and Oklahoma, by the way) is who do they represent? Are they wholly owned subsidiaries of Monsanto, or do they represent the people? Their vote on this purported “Right to Farm” act will tell.

Without further adieu, here’s a look at the reality of concentration in the agricultural arena from the Daily Yonder:

With the rising concentration of companies that provide “inputs” for farmers — seeds, farm machinery, fertilizer — the prices for these goods have been rising faster than the cost of what farmers produce. Monsanto has a near monopoly on some kinds of seeds

Editor’s Note: One of the primary concerns of The Daily Yonder over the past six years has been the increasing concentration of businesses in the business of agriculture. Simply, fewer firms are providing us everything from fertilizer to groceries. 

Big business is getting bigger when it comes to growing our food.

Below is a summary of a recent report that looks at what this increasing concentration means for ag research and development. It was written by researchers at the Economic Research Service, an invaluable part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To see the full report, go here

Since the 1990s, global market concentration (the share of global industry sales earned by the largest firms) has increased in the crop seed/biotechnology, agricultural chemical, animal health, animal breeding, and farm machinery industries – all of which invest heavily in agricultural research.

By 2009, the largest four firms in each of these industries accounted for at least 50 percent of global market sales. Market concentration was particularly high in animal genetics and breeding, where the four-firm concentration ratio reached 56 percent in 2006/07 (the latest year for which data are available).

Growth in global market concentration over 1994-2009 was most rapid in the crop seed industry, where the market share of the four largest firms more than doubled from 21 to 54 percent. The top eight firms in all five input sectors had between a 61 and 75 percent share of global market sales by 2009.

Firms increase their market share either by expanding their sales faster than the industry average or by acquiring or merging with other firms in the industry. Firms can expand their sales faster than others in the industry by offering better products or services (often an outgrowth of larger R&D investments), improving their marketing ability, or offering lower prices (often through economies of scale). The leading input firms in 2010 had faster sales growth than the industry average, but a significant amount of that growth came from acquisitions of other firms.

Reasons for Concentration

Reasons for mergers and acquisitions vary by industry and firm circumstances but include market forces and the emergence of new technologies. Government policies can also affect the ability of firms to compete in markets and their incentives to merge with or acquire other firms.

In the crop seed and animal breeding sectors, the emergence of biotechnology was a major driver of consolidation. Companies sought to acquire relevant technological capacities and serve larger markets to share the large fixed costs associated with meeting regulatory approval for new biotechnology innovations.

In the animal breeding sector, vertical integration in the poultry and livestock industries enabled some large firms to acquire capacity in animal breeding as part of their integrated structure.

In the farm machinery industry, many of the major mergers and acquisitions can be traced to large financial losses sustained by some leading firms during periods when the farm sector was in prolonged recession, which substantially reduced demand for farm machinery as farmers delayed major capital purchases. Firms experiencing large financial losses are often vulnerable to acquisition.

The agricultural chemical sector has been heavily affected by changes in government regulations governing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of new and existing pesticide formulations: larger firms appear better able to address these stricter regulatory requirements.

Consolidation in the animal health sector appears to be largely a byproduct of mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry, as most of the leading animal health companies are subsidiaries of large pharmaceutical companies.(full article here)

Lots of Questions….USDA Census

Recently, I have received a great number of questions from people regarding whether or not they are required to actually answer the overly invasive USDA Census of Agriculture. Mary Zanoni wrote about this in 2007 and spoke with a USDA representative who stated that although they “have the power” to fine people, they had never actually fined anyone for failing to answer the census.

My contention is that there is no Constitutional provision whatsoever to require you to enumerate your farm products and/or livestock and equipment to the Federal government. If you don’t take their “grants” or subsidies, they truly have no standing to require that you answer their “census”….But that isn’t how they see it.

Here is an excerpt from a rather lengthy article that Natural News did on this issue. Please educate yourself and make your own decision about whether or not you can be legally compelled to answer their “survey”.

“People have good reason not to trust the government with their private data and personal farm details. In an age when the DHS is arming to the teeth while refusing to answer questions about why it’s buying enough ammunition to wage a 20-year war with the American people, we are wise to distrust government promises from any federal agency, including the USDA which routinely conspires with Monsanto.

It’s nobody’s business how many chickens or goats I’m raising

I raise chickens and goats, and it’s nobody’s business how many I care for. The USDA says that everybody with backyard chickens is a “farmer” under their control and therefore must fill out this form or face fines and a possible personal visit by government agents.

The USDA itself admits all this, saying:

Even if you do not believe you qualify as a farmer. You may be surprised to learn that a farm is defined as any place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the Census year. Many people who do not think of themselves as farmer actually meet the definition according to the Census. If you own horses, backyard chickens, large urban gardens, etc., you may qualify as a farmer.

Thus, by their own admission, even if you do not produce any food whatsoever, the mere act of living on a piece of land that COULD produce food makes you a farmer! If you have a “large urban garden” you must spy on yourself for the government!

If you refuse to fill out the form, the USDA will send government spies to your property to confront you in person. In their own words:

“For those who do not respond by April 5, NASS will begin following up by telephone and personal visits.”

Add yet, even though you are threatened with being visited by government agents for failing to fill out the form, the USDA admits their own website doesn’t even work much of the time and loses the information you’re trying to fill out:

We are experiencing intermittent connection issues and are working to resolve them as soon as possible. We understand that some respondents have lost their connection or received an error screen that does not allow them to return to the information they already entered. We greatly apologize for this inconvenience and we hope to have the problems resolved very soon. (SOURCE)

Furthermore, you are not allowed to answer any question with, “I don’t know.” As the USDA explains:

NASS does not provide an option for respondents to select “don’t know” because your best estimate is always better than “don’t know.”

Of course, the government can always imprison you for providing inaccurate information, so the mere act of attempting to fill out the form automatically makes you a criminal for reporting inaccurate financial data. It’s a catch-22: Refuse to fill out the form, and you earn a visit from government agents along with possible fines. Choose to fill out the form, and you incriminate yourself with possible felony violations for “lying to the government.” This is the crime that sent Martha Stewart to prison, by the way.”

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/039652_USDA_agriculture_census_government_surveillance.html#ixzz2OlJYCMZf

Food Stamps For Mexico, Furloughs for Meat Inspectors: Make it Hurt!

Continuing with the “Make it Hurt” philosophy of the Obama Administration on the sequester, unnecessary expenditures will continue unabated. The ramifications of the furloughing of meat inspectors is enormous. According to the USDA’s own statistics, roughly 6.5 million people are employed in the meat distribution and processing arenas. Furloughing them will affect anyone in the supply chain, and every one in the pocket book….but don’t forget, there aren’t going to be inspections on foreign meat, so maybe you’ll still be able to get get kangaroo, horse, donkey, beef, and who knows what hamburger at something approaching a reasonable price.

From FOX:

Dems preserve US-Mexico food stamp ‘partnership,’ while USDA prepares for meat inspector furloughs

Published March 18, 2013

FoxNews.com

  • caphill_foodstamp.jpg
    AP
Salmonella outbreaks. E. coli outbreaks. Millions of dollars in economic losses.These are among the scenarios the Obama administration warned about last month as it claimed the sequester would force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to furlough meat inspectors.

But while the administration prepares to take that step, it continues to pursue a “partnership” with the Mexican government to “raise awareness” about food stamps among immigrants from that country. When a top Senate Republican proposed cutting off funds for that program last week — in the form of an amendment to a budget resolution — Democrats on the Budget Committee shot it down.

It’s hard to put a firm price on the cost of the partnership, which was launched under the George W. Bush administration. But an aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who has railed against the partnership for months, said it could easily be in the millions. Since 2004, the program has blossomed to include dozens of meetings and conferences and health fairs with Mexican officials — all of which cost money, not to mention the cost to the food stamp program of new enrollees brought in as a result of this partnership.

Sessions, in a statement to FoxNews.com, said he believes the public will eventually demand an end to the program, though the Senate Budget Committee allowed it to continue in the vote last week.

“We have uncovered extensive evidence that federal authorities have — during the Bush and Obama administrations — aggressively undermined a core legal tenet of immigration policy: that those granted admission should be self-sufficient and contribute to the economic health of the nation,” Sessions said. “It is amazing that Budget Committee Democrats would unanimously vote to continue funding these costly promotions, especially when our debt is causing such profound economic harm.”

According to a letter from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Sessions last September, the “partnership” since 2004 has included roughly 91 meetings between U.S. and Mexico embassy and consulate staff; 29 health fair events; and 31 roundtable discussions, conferences and forums in 20 cities.

Twenty percent of the meetings and activities occurred since 2008, according to Vilsack’s letter. Sessions is concerned the collaboration amounts to a vehicle for the USDA to pressure people onto the food-stamp rolls — in this case, noncitizen immigrants from Mexico.

The USDA denies this. In his letter last year, Vilsack said the purpose is “to help eligible people in need make informed decisions about whether or not to seek assistance.”

The initiative is one of several the agency has “to promote awareness of nutrition assistance among those who need benefits and meet all program requirements under current law,” Vilsack told Sessions in the 24-page letter.

However, his letter indicates the number of legal, noncitizens participating in the program — now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — has increased from 425,000 to 1.23 million between 2001 and 2010.

Meanwhile, the USDA continues to press forward with plans to furlough meat inspectors, describing it as a necessity of the sequester — though the department has eased off a bit on warnings that this could lead to more foodborne illness, since all meat and poultry will still have to be inspected.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/18/dems-preserve-us-mexico-food-stamp-partnership-while-usda-prepares-for-meat/#ixzz2NzVHyPEa

USDA Possibly Removing Meat Inspectors

So today, after covering the canceling of meat inspectors even visiting foreign “approved” meat packing plants, Vilsack held a press conference regarding “sequestration” and putting 6,000 or more USDA meat inspectors on a two to three week furlough unless Congress does what Obama wants with this next fiscal cliff. After canceling meat inspections, which in reality were just once a year visits to plants in foreign countries giving them a once over and stamping them as USDA Approved for a year, they are now going to shut down US meat plants. Nice. That ought to make the economy just wonderful. When the USDA inspected plants do not have a USDA inspector on the floor, the plants are shut down.

Sounds like a great way to get all beef equine burgers into our markets post haste. Also sounds like a good way to bring about a food crises.

Here’s the article:

Sequestration = Possible Meat Inspector Cuts

Northern Ag Network posted on February 11, 2013 09:23 :: 137 Views

by Jerry Hagstrom, DTN Political Correspondent
LAS VEGAS (DTN) — Across-the-board federal budget cuts could force USDA to furlough up to 6,000 meat inspectors for up to two weeks, plunging the meat industry into chaos and raising consumer prices, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a speech to the National Biodiesel Board Thursday.
In wide-ranging comments after his speech on the sequestration and the prospects for a new farm bill, Vilsack said the sequestration — an across-the-board cut in government spending set to go into effect on March 1 if Congress does not change it — would require USDA’s Food and Safety and Inspection Service to “furlough over 6,000 food inspectors for two to three weeks.”
“As soon as you take an inspector off the floor, that plant shuts down,” Vilsack added, noting that removing inspectors even for a short period would affect several hundred thousand workers and would affect the supply of meat and eventually consumer prices.
A USDA spokeswoman said there are about 6,500 federal meat inspectors.
The sequestration, Vilsack said, “is horrible policy,” adding that the potential problem at FSIS “is just a tiny piece of my life.”
“It is really hard to manage the department,” Vilsack said, adding that sequestration will require that the cut be made in six months, which means it is essentially double the percentage required.
Some Republicans have proposed that cuts to the Defense Department should be avoided and the way to do it is to increase domestic cuts, which could make the problem at the Agriculture Department worse. The Obama administration has proposed delaying the cuts and including a tax increase.
Vilsack said he is worried Congress might decide the way to avoid sequestration deficit reduction is to “do away with the direct payments” that crop farmers get whether prices are high or low. The problem with that, he noted, is Congress has been planning to use the $4.9 billion in annual budget authority for the payments to write a new farm bill.
He praised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for reintroducing the farm bill the Senate passed last year, but said he believes the Senate Agriculture Committee will have to adjust that bill because it will not satisfy Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., the new ranking member.
Vilsack also said he expects House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., “to work their magic,” but that the dairy issue is still unresolved in the House.
He noted that dairy farmers want a program to support them when “milk and feed prices get to the point there is less than a $4 cushion between them,” but there has to be a mechanism that does not reward overproduction.
Vilsack noted that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the proposal last year “socialism” and said “somewhere they have got to figure out how to remove the volatility, create greater stability and not break the bank.”
Vilsack also told the biodiesel producers the farm bill needs a strong energy title and they should also form alliances to pass the “food, farm and jobs bill.” (from this link)
© Copyright 2013 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

USDA Cuts Foreign Meat Plant Inspections

While the USDA works to destroy US cattle growers ability to profit from their labor, they make it easier for the general public to buy meat with NO inspection process at all- from foreign countries.

For those who don’t have a solid handle on this issue, I’ll give you a really brief run down. Since the 1950’s the USDA has been operating under the OECD plan of “get big or get out”. The percentage  of US farms relative to the population has dramatically dwindled, and the  complete failure of the USDA and the DOJ to enforce the competition and monopoly laws on the books allows for strong corporate control of the market. And because of reciprocal agreements between the States and the USDA, a person can’t raise their stock and sell directly to the public without USDA interference or oversight.

There are a million more issues related to this lack of access to market (not market access, defined as access to foreign markets), and I’ve covered a lot of them in the past, but for this morning, I would like you to see how concerned with REAL food safety the USDA is. It’s simple. They are not concerned.

While the USDA and the FDA ramp up their State sponsored terrorism on domestic farmers wishing to provide their communities with honest food, they allow fewer inspections of foreign plants and effectively let them “self inspect”.

Nice, isn’t it? You can’t buy a half a steer processed by your neighbor whom you can speak with, but you can buy hamburger with who knows what in it, and the USDA approves.

USDA cuts safety audits on imported meat

Dow Jones Newswires 01/25/2013 @ 2:08pm

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cut the number of food safety audits it conducts on foreign countries that ship meat to the U.S. as part of an overhaul that the agency says will allow it to focus on the riskiest imports.

USDA officials are now only conducting audits of safety laws in meat-exporting countries at least once every three years instead of on a mandatory annual basis, the agency said Friday, a move that critics say could reduce the safety of imported meat.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.), one of those critics, expressed alarm that USDA had already changed its audit system without informing Congress or the public.

The previous system that relied on annual audits was “imperative to ensuring that foreign regulatory systems provide the same level of protection of the public health as our domestic system,” Ms. DeLauro said, but now it seems that USDA “has been implementing and refining these changes for several years.”

The USDA said Friday in a submission to the U.S. Federal Register that it began making the transition “from an annual on-site audit to less frequent on-site audits” in 2009 and “now that the transition is fully in place, [USDA] is announcing it to the public.”

Countries with a history of food safety violations will get closer scrutiny under the new system, the USDA said.

“This performance-based approach allows [USDA] to direct its resources to foreign food regulatory systems that pose a greater risk to public health compared to others,” the USDA said. (read full story here)

 

GMO Hogs get $500k and Other Atrocities

While the FDA is edging toward full approval of  GMO salmon, the USDA is busy doling out your great grandchildren’s money to genetically engineer other animals. Last year, the Enviro Pig effort from Guelph University was scratched. That project was functional, and they successfully mutated hogs by splicing mouse genes into the DNA to try to address the phosphates in hog manure. The most recent pig endeavor is to monosex and halt onset of sexual maturity in hogs through genetic engineering.

A very sad aspect of this particular issue is that in Michigan, raisers of natural hogs are being economically destroyed by the Michigan DNR on a looks based (phenotype) invasive species order that has been upheld by the courts to allow the destruction of heritage hogs. So while government aids in the destruction of natural animals, they aid and abet the creation of unnatural genetic aberrations and use your wealth to commit these crimes against nature.

Enviro Pig Graphic

There were lots of internet cross postings about GMO Pigs receiving $500,000 from the USDA, but none of the articles were sourcing or naming the entities receiving this funding. I finally found the source article for these reports, and back checked through the USDA and found the grant awards reported and verified them. The issue for me in fully sourcing things is that things truly are bad enough that we do NOT have to make anything up. If it cannot be documented, I will only pass it on as “potential” information. So, the Recombinetics grant from the USDA is fully vetted, and they award their own branch almost $500k in their self-funding method. Here are the rest of the grant recipients from the USDA itself:

BRAG funding supports research in the following areas: identifying and developing practices to minimize risks associated with genetically engineered organisms; developing methods to monitor the dispersal of genetically engineered organisms; increasing knowledge about the characteristics, rates and methods of gene transfer that may occur between genetically engineered organisms and related wild and domesticated organisms; and providing analysis which compares impacts of organisms modified through genetic engineering to other types of production systems.

Fiscal Year 2012 awards include:

  • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., Transmission genetics of sorghum to Johnsongrass gene transfer, $499,460
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, Risks from field-evolved resistance to Bt corn by Western Corn Rootworm, $284,000
  • Recombinetics, Inc., St. Paul, Minn., TALEN-mediated chromosome targeting for monosexing and genetic containment in livestock, $499,915
  • Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center, Albuquerque, N.M., Antibody-based paratransgenics for Pierce’s Disease: advanced methods for transmission blocking and environmental monitoring, $500,000
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., Molecular genetic basis of insect resistance to Bt-crops, $499,997
  • State University of New York, College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, Syracuse, N.Y., Evaluating environmental impacts of maturing transgenic American chestnut trees and their nut crop relative to chestnut trees produced by conventional breeding, $499,892
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., Genomic approaches for Bt resistance risk assessment and improvement of regulatory triggers,  $499,999
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, Gene flow networks and potential invasiveness of perennial biofuel grasses (Miscanthus), $499,940
  • The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, Okla., Conference proposal: 2012 World Congress on In Vitro Biology, $17,500
  • International Society for Biosafety Research Inc., Washington, D.C., Conference proposal: 12th International Symposium on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms, $25,000
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Brookings, S.D., An adaptive framework for non-target risk assessment of RNAi-based, insect-resistant GM crops, $497,464″

 

Name Games with the USDA (again)

©Doreen Hannes

On May 11th, the USDA held the first of three public meetings on their “New NAIS” program “Animal Disease Traceability”. The meeting began at 8am with three power point presentations. California State Veterinarian, Dr. Richard Breitmeyer gave the first presentation. This was the same presentation he gave at the mid-March NIAA (National Institute of Animal Agriculture) meeting, also held in Kansas City.

A little history is in order to understand the progression of this idea for animal traceability. In the US, the first notable plan for identifying animals was the NFAIP, along with FAIR, those being the National Farm Animal Identification Program and Farm Animal Identification and Records. Then under the Bush Administration there was the United States Animal Identification Plan, with the NAIS, National Animal Identification System hot on it’s heels. Now, they have “killed” NAIS, but are moving forward with the Animal Disease Traceability plan, the ADT. The main difference here is that the USDA is going to make a rule on the ADT to prescribe the “performance standards” for traceability that the states MUST meet to engage in interstate commerce with the ADT.

Breitmeyer’s presentation focused on the difficulties around tracing the contacts of tubercular (and suspect) cattle in the state of California and other states without the aid of an interoperable database covering all animals and all movements. According to his presentation, the state of California has approximately 57,500 known live cattle imports from Mexico per year. This is significant in that more than 75% of all tuberculosis in cattle is of Mexican origin. Breitmeyer lamented that when he began as a vet 25 years ago, the US had nearly eliminated TB except for in small areas of northern Michigan and northern Minnesota where the soil make up continues to keep TB in the wildlife and therefore occasionally in cattle. Breitmeyer’s presentation was actually quite a good illustration of many of the failed policies of the USDA in disease control, the lack of quarantine at the borders chief among them. Of course, he is a proponent of a NAIS style system because having all that data available would make his job easier…At least on paper.

The second presentation was given by a very soft-spoken APHIS/VS (Veternary Services) representative, Dr. TJ Mayer. He stressed that the “theme” for the development of the “new” program is “collaboration”. Those to be affected must be involved in the process of developing the solution for the lack of traceability that now exists— particularly in cattle. Cattle are the primary focus for this new plan, and the methodology for bringing cattle to 95% traceability back to the point of identification in 2 business days is dependent on “collaboration” in developing the processes in our states. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Mayer also illustrated that the desired traceability would be implemented gradually through partnerships of stakeholders and building upon the requirements outlined in the rule that is to be developed for criteria that states must meet for interstate commerce.

The third presentation was by Becky Brewer (Oklahoma State Vet) and the apparent lead member of the newly established “Regulatory Working Group”. Dr. Brewer related the thinking of the Regulatory Working Group on the measurable outcomes of the ‘traceability’ standards to arrive at 95% of “all” animals traced back to the ‘traceability unit’ within 2 business days. Sounds just like the NAIS Business Plan, doesn’t it? Brewer stated, “In government speak, “all” doesn’t mean all.” This may explain why the USDA kept insisting that when opponents of NAIS cited documents verbatim, we were “spreading misinformation”. Evidently the English language is a linguistic and statistical anomaly in the hands and mouths of bureaucrats.

There were no question and answer sessions after the presentations. Instead every table was given a USDA facilitator and three segments of questions to answer regarding how we might achieve the desired outcome of getting animals id’d back to the ‘traceability unit’ within their timeframes. The tables were marked with species placards and there were at least five cattle tables, three swine, two poultry, one sheep and goat, and one “other species”.

When I entered the room I noticed that Kenny Fox of R CALF USA was at a cattle table and I failed to notice the “other species” table so I sat at the sheep and goat table. There were no people at the poultry tables. The cattle tables were quite full, and all of the reporters were sitting at the ‘other species’ table, so I thought I would just sit at the empty sheep and goat table.

When the facilitating began, I was blessed with three USDA representatives at my table, where all the other tables only had one. I shared the table with one sheep broker from New Mexico. He deals in 20 to 30,000 head of sheep annually mostly exported to Mexico and was quite content with the Scrapie program. This program identifies breeding animals back to the flock of origin with a number assigned to the flock manager and not the land the animals are held on. It also allows for tattoos as an alternate form of official id for interstate commerce, and does not use RFID tags, although it could in the future.

The USDA representatives at my table were not particularly interested in hearing about how the failed agricultural policies have created a problem that the USDA would now like all of us to ‘partner’ with them to solve. They did take copious notes, and were quite proficient in ‘mirroring’ my statements while slightly adjusting them to fit their desired outcome more handily.

At the end of each of the three segments, a representative from each table stood and gave the ‘report’ from the table on that segment. The consensus of the cattle groups were that only breeders should be identified, RFID tags should be avoided, back tags should continue to be used for feeders and slaughter cows, and a NAIS styled system would not work at all.

The USDA is currently promoting the use of ‘bright’ tags for cattle. These are very similar to brucellosis tags in numbering and appearance. However, when the only question and answer segment of the day took place and Neil Hammerschmidt (one of the main authors of NAIS) gave most of the answers, he made it clear that the USDA still wants to ‘aggressively’ pursue the use of 840 tags.

The bottom line about the entire meeting is that the USDA will try to have a draft rule ready in June from the “Regulatory Working Group”. This rule will define the “performance standards” that are to be met by the states to engage in interstate commerce. The USDA plans to publish this proposed rule in November or December of 2010, allow a 90-day comment period, and finalize the rule (make it law) from 8-10 months after the comment period is complete. There may be different requirements under these performance standards by species, and some potentially exempted sectors or movements. There is admitted concern from the USDA and their friends that incentives and disincentives for states must be expressed clearly and not be too “heavy handed”. In other words, if a state meets compliance levels in hogs and not cattle, the hogs should not be refused access to interstate commerce.

It appears to me that we must proactively engage our state legislators to statutorily define requirements for interstate livestock movement and not allow the Departments of Agriculture the leeway to cooperate with the USDA to achieve the goals of the USDA as those goals are still NAIS oriented. The USDA will not dismantle the National Premises Repository although Hammerschmidt stated that if a state were to want to withdraw all of their participants, they could do so. Also, according to Hammerschmidt, they still want to move ‘aggressively’ to 840 tags as official identification along with electronic Certificates of Veterinary Inspection.

The onus of implementing the graduated Animal Disease Traceability program rests squarely on the individual states. Either the states will define those standards statutorily or the USDA will bring about their final desires incrementally through the regulatory process.==========

Easter Bunny Reports "NAIS is Dead!!!!"

©Doreen Hannes

February 8, 2010

As I reported after returning from the NIAA (National Institute for Animal Agriculture) meeting last August, rumors of the death of NAIS have been greatly exaggerated. (Read http://nonais.org/2009/09/05/ding-dong-nais-is-not-dead/) The USDA has finally admitted that they have too much negative publicity surrounding the name NAIS, and that they actually have to do what they tried to do in the first place: get the states to do their bidding on ‘animal identification’ and ‘traceability’ according to World Trade Organization standards. So yippee. They are only going to exercise their rule-making authority to control interstate commerce. Well, that’s all they had the authority to do at the outset. So we should be giddy with excitement that they are openly proclaiming they will do just that now.

Should we be happier than a pig in a puddle because they openly stated that they will leave animals which never exit the state out of the new plan? They never had the authority to deal with those animals anyway…unless, of course, you take money from the USDA. Otherwise, that authority rests with your state. The USDA will continue to fund the states and work in a ‘collaborative’ way with states and industry (continuing the Public Private Partnership otherwise known as fascism) to develop the “minimum standards” that must be followed in order to participate in interstate commerce.

So, as many conversations with my compatriots in the fight against NAIS have alluded to, at last the USDA is pulling the commerce clause out and holding it up as their hammer for “minimum standards” that will be required by forthcoming regulations for ‘disease traceability’. And why has the USDA taken to calling it ‘disease traceability’ instead of ‘animal identification’? Because they only HAVE authority over the diseases! The FDA has authority over live animals on the farm (http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Testimony/ucm114752.htm), even though the majority of people don’t know this, and it is a very useful poker chip in the globalization game. It is called misdirection, and those of us who have been deeply involved in the fight against the NAIS are very aware of this agency’s use of misinformation, disinformation, subterfuge and general sneakiness in foisting upon us their WTO driven desire that will create captive supply for export of the entire domestic livestock population.

The only official document available on the “NAIS not NAIS” program is a seven page Q and A available at the new page for “NAIS not NAIS” called Animal Disease Traceability. (http://www.aphis. usda.gov/ publications/ animal_health/ content/printabl e_version/ faq_traceability .pdf). It’s only 7 pages, so if you have read the previous 1200 pages of USDA documents on this program, it’s a walk in the park.

One of the first questions that one asks when told “NAIS is Dead!”, (aside from “what’s it’s new name?”) is “What about all the people who are in the Premises Database with PIN’s already?” According to the 7-page document, they stay in that database.

How about animals that are already identified with the “840” tags for NAIS? They also stay in the database. What about the “840” tags themselves? Well, the USDA and States will keep using them.

Are they going to halt further registrations into the NAIS database? Heck no! They’ll keep registering properties and will also be using a ‘unique location identifier’ for this kinder, gentler NAIS that the States will run for us.

Why are they re-using the first two prongs of NAIS? Aside from the unstated fact that they are using them because they have to use them to be compliant with OIE (World Animal Health Organization) guidelines, they say it’s because of the tremendous amount of money spent developing NAIS already even though it is un-Constitutional.

How much money? It’s government math, so it’s likely done by consensus as opposed to literal whole numbers that add up- you know, like 2+2=4. Consensus would make it possible for 2+2 to equal 5. Anyway, figures cited by various officials are anywhere from $120 million to $180 million. Less than 60¢ per person, so almost nothing when compared to the monstrous 107 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities we are currently carrying. Believe me, when I say I am not for government waste at all, but when an agency has spent this much time and money on an unfruitful program, isn’t it better to simply fully knock it in the head instead of changing the name and playing “Hide and Go Seek” with the people who have adamantly opposed this program? Why couldn’t the USDA do the only truly Constitutional thing with this international-trade driven program and let those who want to deal in international markets do this to themselves through the Export Verification Services department of the USDA? Well, if they did that, not only would they have to actually be fully open and transparent, they would need to let the public in on the big secret that the United States is no longer in charge of its own policies, rather they are obligated to follow the Sanitary PhytoSanitary (SPS) directives of the World Trade Organization agencies, namely Codex Alimentarius, the OIE and the IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention).

And we still have the very real issue of the massive database for premises registration (or the unique location allocator) having no public or verifiable oversight to check whether or not people who have been told they were removed were in fact removed from that database. So if NAIS is dead, why not allow the database to be annihilated? Obviously, they are still following the plan.

What about the states that have passed legislation designed to constrain NAIS from becoming mandatory within their boundaries? How will this new disease traceability program affect them? Well, since this is NOT NAIS and the regulations aren’t yet written, the states will have to wait to find out what requirements they MUST MEET in order to participate in interstate commerce. There’s your hammer.

So how powerful is the interstate commerce clause? Pretty dang powerful. And if people who dealt in the local food movement fully understood Wickard vs. Filburn, (http://conservapedia.com/Wickard_v._Filburn) they would feel no consolation whatsoever from the USDA’s statement that they are not interested in regulating livestock that stay within the state.

In a nutshell, this 1942 Supreme Court case found that since Filburn had accepted money as part of the Agricultural Adjustments Act and then grew wheat to feed his own livestock, that he was not only subject to the regulation of the USDA by accepting that money, but also, since he grew wheat, he hadn’t purchased it, and had he not grown it, he would have had to purchase wheat which would have likely come through interstate commerce. Therefore, his planting of wheat affected interstate commerce and solidified the USDA’s jurisdiction over his actions.

If you transplant “tomato” for wheat you can see how sinister this ruling truly is. If you grow tomatoes, you won’t be buying them, so if you don’t buy them, and since the store bought tomatoes likely cross state lines in their movement, you are affecting interstate commerce by growing tomatoes….This is precedent, and it is a very, very dangerous precedent. So taking money or help from the USDA to establish your local farmer’s market is going to put you into a relationship that is highly precarious for freedom.

The interstate commerce clause was not designed to hammer states into submission to federal or international agency trade objectives, it was to stop states from unfairly discriminating against each other and to enable us to be a strong union of sovereign states that could actually feed itself and prosper. The only thing to do is to keep fighting with full knowledge and to get the States to exercise their duty to protect the Citizens from an overarching Federal government. We need states to completely free up direct trade between farmers and consumers and we need states to work together to create their own criteria for exchange of goods across state lines.

Do we have to ‘stay engaged’ in conversations with the USDA on this “New Not NAIS”? Yes, to keep telling them to go sell crazy somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here, thank you. They should tend the borders, control and actually inspect the imports, run the disease programs that worked and were not massive consolidations of power in federal hands, and for cryin’ out loud INSPECT the packing plants and stop trying to make consumers believe that farmers and ranchers are responsible for sloppy slaughtering!

Also, go ahead and leave a bunch of the milk chocolate rabbits for us. Chocolate is one thing we probably should import, but certainly not at the cost of our freedom and sovereignty.

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