Now the Power Trip Crazy Feds Want to ID Your Chickens!!!
"I don't need no stinkin' ID...
By the way...
where's Obama's REAL ID?"
Voter ID has gotten large amounts of media attention, but residents of rural areas are concerned about another identification issue that has remained largely ignored... chicken ID. ~ Katherine Timpf
If a chicken or cow takes a trip out of state, it had better have its papers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed rules for Animal Disease Traceability, developed in August 2011, are now in their final stages. They require identification of farm animals, such as poultry and cattle, that cross state lines.
Many farmers worry the rules would send them on a literal wild goose chase, forcing them to catch and hold down each bird to attach an identification tag.
This would be a daunting task for Karin Bergener of Freedom, Ohio, who owns more than 100 birds from different states.
To avoid injuries and burnt feathers from tattooing and branding, Ms. Bergener said the favored identification method is a “permanent metal leg band,” which presents its own set of challenges.
“You have to change the tags out, because as they grow they need different sized tags, and you somehow have to write down that you started out with this bird and this number and it becomes that number,” she said.
Ms. Bergener adds that the rules make her particularly angry since she sees them as unnecessary.
“If birds get sick with some communicable disease that has to be controlled, they don't kill only one bird — they kill the entire flock,” she said. “So there's really no sense in tagging individual birds.”
Fidelis Hegngi, a senior staff veterinarian at USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, also has his doubts.
“To really truly have something like tagging work on poultry you would need to have something absolute because birds move a lot, if you don't have something absolute, it's not going to work.
“I don't think the technology is there yet to really implement the bird ID to be fully, fully functional,” Mr. Hegngi said.
Government officials have not said whether they would check animals for identification at traffic stops.
Ms. Bergener has a simple solution to the poultry police: “I'm going to do selective passive resistance,” she said. “I'm not tagging.”
She's not alone. Thirty-eight organizations signed off on a letter to the Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday, July 10, expressing their concerns about the USDA's new policy.
The letter explains that although the rules do allow for “group identification,” they define it so it applies only to animals “managed together as one group 'throughout the pre-harvest chain,' ” and therefore does not apply to the “majority of small-scale poultry owners who frequently commingle poultry of different ages and from different sources.”
The Ranch Freedom Alliance, an advocate for independent farmers based in Cameron, Texas, was among the groups that signed the letter. Executive Director Judith McGeary, who is also a lawyer and a cattle rancher, explained the problem this way:
“If enforced as written, it could have an incredibly devastating impact on small family farms and the literally thousands of people, probably tens of thousands, who keep a few chickens in their backyards for their own eggs.”
Ms. McGeary said she has expressed concern about the ID rules to government officials countless times, but her worries have fallen on deaf ears.
When asked to comment on how the definition would affect small farmers, USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford said Thursday he did not know, was too “high up” to know much about the specific exemptions to the rule, and could not comment.
A day later, his spokesman confirmed the letter's interpretation of the rule:
“Commingling of chickens from multiple sources by a poultry grower … would conflict with using the [general identification] option, thus leaving individual identification as the option for meeting the traceability requirements.”
According to the letter to OMB, the USDA's disconnect with farmers does not stop at rules for poultry. The USDA estimates a rancher's cost to identify cattle at 18 cents a head, but the letter cites a study from North Dakota State University that places the actual cost of cow citizenship at $20 a head.
Kris Ringwall, a livestock specialist at NDSU who headed up the study, explained that the USDA failed to take into account that most local farms do not have the proper equipment or labor to handle ID duties.
“I have to gather my cows, get all the neighbors over. I've got to hire the labor. I've got to add this process to what I'm already doing,” he said.
“I have to buy the equipment. I may have to buy the chute. I may
have to buy the pickup. You have to hire seven or eight bucks for crew
labor. One person to work a calf doesn't work, you need a half a dozen
and a lot of that is not in that other estimate.
“If I'm a feed lot, it's my standard operation and all I'm doing is adding a tag. If you're a producer out here sitting in west North Dakota and the nearest power plug is three miles away, that's a different deal.”
Ms. McGeary said she has experienced a major disconnect when trying to communicate the realities of farming to the USDA. For example, the agency estimated the time it takes to tag a steer at one minute per head.
“You have to round them up, you have to get them in the chutes, you have to separate them by age, you have to run them through the chutes, then you have to restrain them and either need special equipment to keep their heads still or you need multiple people to restrain the head long enough to do the tagging.”
Ms. Bergener said she worries that placing these kind of restrictions on small farms will ultimately lead to their demise — and the destruction of small town America and the country's rural way of life.
“People will stop wanting to own chickens, and that's a whole domino effect which is 4-H, the feed stores, the companies that produce all the waterers and feeders and the fencing and everything else.
“It may take time, but it will utterly squeeze one more breath out of rural America.”
Katherine Timpf - July 13, 2012 - Times247
I told my Rhode Island Red hen about the 'Chicken ID'... she's still squaking!