Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry (ODAFF) announced on June 24, 2009 that it would force youth exhibitors at livestock shows to sign up for a “voluntary” National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Oklahoma farmers have decided not to “volunteer” for NAIS, so ODAFF has decided to force their children to “volunteer” for them.
(Update Monday June 29, 2009. ODAFF indeed adopted a rule on Wednesday. It was an emergency rule declaring that the ucoming livestock shows represent an imminent peril to health and safety due to the ‘swine flu.” As stated below, registering premises can not help at all if there is a disease outbrean at this falls livestock show. It seems obvious that the emergency was declared so that the Board of Agriculture would not have to recieve any public comment. )
(Updated Info: On Friday, June 26, ODAFF staff said the rule referred to in its press release was still in draft form and would not be availabe until Monday. They could not explain how an unfinished draft could be approved by the Board of Agriculture or how the ODAFF had any authority to revise a rule that had already been approved. Perhaps we’ll know more on Monday)
Using children to force farmers to do something that is supposed to be “voluntary” is something far worse than NAIS. This use of children to manipulate parents is entirely illegitimate – perhaps it is best described as Orwellian.
NAIS was created by and for industrialized agriculture (“Big Ag”). Under NAIS farmers would identify every animal and report every place that animal goes during its life. Taxpayers pay for NAIS. Big Ag wants to force NAIS on farmers. NAIS increases Big Ag’s ability to control the food supply chain. Farmers and consumers oppose NAIS because it doesn’t do them any good. Big Ag failed in its attempts to make NAIS mandatory. According to the US Congress it is a voluntary program.
USDA paid ODAFF hundreds of thousands of dollars to get farmers to voluntarily sign up for NAIS. Oklahoma farmers would not do it. Oklahoma ranks 40th among the states in percentage of premises registered – 13.8%. The national total is 34.7%.
On June 24, ODAFF decided to force youth exhibitors to do what the parents had chosen not to do. If the youth want to show livestock they have to register their parents’ premises.
In an thinly veiled effort to disguise its motive, ODAFF made the patently false claim that this measure will help in case of an outbreak of the “swine flu” (H1N1) in Oklahoma. This claim is obviously false because the NAIS system is not operational and will not be for years, if ever. ODAFF is only getting information. The system will not be able to use the information any time soon. By forcing youth to sign up for NAIS, ODAFF does nothing except force children to provide information about their parents that the parents decided not to give.
Using fear of “swine flu” and using children to manipulate parents is Orwellian. These are not the action of independent public servants. This is Big Brother.