Remember eating is indeed a political act.
Henry Lamb is the founding Chairman of Sovereignty International
(1996), and the founding ECO of the Environmental Conservation
Organization (1988). He is publisher of eco-logic Powerhouse, a widely
read on-line, and print magazine. His columns are frequently translated
into Spanish and published throughout Central and South America, Spain,
Portugal, and Italy. He has attended United Nations meetings around the
world, is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops across the
country, and is a regular guest on dozens of talk radio programs. He
has provided testimony for the U.S. Congress, as well as State
Legislatures, and has served as a consultant to FOX News on U.N.
For eight years, he was CEO of a national trade association for
contractors, headquartered in Chicago, coming to that position from CEO
of a private construction company specializing in erosion control and
water management structures. His background includes teaching at the
secondary school level, and serving four years as a legislative analyst
for a county government in Florida. E-Mail: h...@freedom.org
The mark on the beast
By Henry Lamb
January 15, 2006
The stated purpose of the program (NAIS) is to enable government to
trace, within 48 hours, the source of a faulty animal food product. The
effect of the program is the transfer of the control of private
property to the government - while forcing the property owner to pay
the cost of the transfer.
Last week's column asked: "What do you call it when government takes
away the use of private property, but leaves the title in the name of
the property owner?" Dozens of letter writers correctly responded:
"Fascism." Last week's column was about government controlling the use
of land; this week, the government is controlling the use of animals.
The program is not limited to commercial producers; it includes the
half-dozen chickens at Grandma's house. Her "premises" and each chicken
must be registered with the government, as the program now stands. In
fact, the pet parakeet in a cage on the 20th floor of a condo in Miami
Beach must also be registered, along with the premises. As the program
now stands, there are no exceptions.
Surely some of the stupidity will be squeezed out of the program as
more people become aware of it, and insist that government has gone too
far. The question, however, is not how far is too far, but whether
government should go there at all.
Nothing among the enumerated powers granted to the federal government
by the U.S. Constitution can be construed to include the power to
control the use of private property. The federal government is
empowered to regulate interstate commerce, but Grandma's chickens and
Aunt Jane's parakeet do not constitute interstate commerce.
Everyone wants a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply, which
America has enjoyed for years - without a National Animal
Identification System. Why is it necessary now? The increased terrorist
threat certainly justifies tightening up security in the food chain.
But, the NAIS does little or nothing to tighten security, while
imposing ridiculous burdens upon the small producer.
The NAIS was initiated by the National Institute of Animal Agriculture,
a non-government organization consisting of the leaders of
agribusiness. The program they designed tends to shift the burden,
cost, and ultimate responsibility for food safety from the agribusiness
giants to the small producer.
Interstate commerce conjures up images of businesses such as Tyson
Foods, which has mastered the art of vertically integrated marketing.
Tyson controls the production of its chickens from birth to market,
using farmers only to provide space and labor to get their product to
slaughter. Here is where government should focus its regulatory concern
- and leave Grandma's chickens alone.
Suppliers of beef, pork, and lamb, often buy their animals from small
producers, who work hard to raise healthy, marketable animals. The
agribusiness suppliers are free to buy, or not buy, from any producer.
Here, at the point where the product enters the food chain, is where
responsibility, security, and regulatory control should be focused -
not on the already overburdened small producer.
But, no. The NAIS requires the small producer to not only bear the cost
of the program, but also to be the ultimate scapegoat in the event that
an agribusiness supplier's product is found to be faulty, for whatever
reason. Should little Johnny get sick after eating a hamburger made
with beef supplied by BigAgri Packing Company, BigAgri simply points
the finger to the producer, or producers, whose cows were in the batch
from which Johnny's hamburger was made. Agribusiness shifts its
responsibility for buying only healthy product to the farmer, who must
guarantee his animals to be healthy.
The NAIS is an industry-designed program, which will drive small
producers out of business, reduce competition, and ultimately put both
supply and price in the hands of industry giants - unless opponents
of this program get organized.
And here's a reader response to Henry's article from a small farmer...
NAIS: Fascism is what we should call it
By Edward H. Ey
January 15, 2006
Congratulations on grabbing the tip of the NAIS iceberg. You clearly
understand the essence of the major issues facing small agricultural
producers, and the general public. But - there is a much broader set
of implications that you might want to look into.
The incestuous relationship between agribusiness and the USDA is well
recognized by many farmers and livestock producers. The USDA is no
longer a useful agency for American agriculture. The USDA has become
the conscript of agribusiness. All key positions at the USDA are now
held by former agribusiness people, or their minions.
The NAIS scheme currently has little or no support, among small and
independent farmers and livestock producers. Few to none of my friends
and neighbors have bought into the NAIS Ponzi scheme. We recognize the
sleaze, the illicit design, the unnecessary cost, and the political
intentions of this latest useless offering from Washington, D.C.
Beyond the overt display of tracking animals, the NAIS plan is to be
used by the IRS to verify farmer and producer incomes, and the system
will also become a tool used by agribusiness. The USDA has backed away
from direct implementation of the system, and will use contractors and
private organizations to do the dirty work of installing the system and
collecting the data. The Secretary of Agricultural knows when to back
away from a smelly pig.
So, why is the collection of agricultural livestock data important
beyond the control of private property? The answer is because the
agribusiness giants will then have access to all of the information on
the database. They will have knowledge about all sources and supplies
of commodity animals. They will use such information to improve their
ongoing practice of captive supply and market price manipulation. The
USDA has promised protection of my private producer information, once
its on the database. Right! If anyone believes that, they can see me
about some swamp land I have for sale in Florida.
To gain a better understanding of this menace, you might be interested
in the actions and writings of Mike Callicrate, the actions of the OCM
outfit in Nebraska, plus some of the issues defined by R-CALF other
than BSE imports, and the increasing national trend of small farmers
and producers to form more independent co-op outfits to counter the
threat of agribusiness.
Agribusiness killed the independent chicken and pork industries, and
they are now attempting to do the same thing to independent cattle
producers. Agribusiness and the USDA are successfully depopulating the
Great Plains, but a national range war has begun in the cattle
business, and it's liable to get very nasty, very soon.
Fascism is what we call it, when private property is controlled by
government. Clearly, there is no issue more important for the Supreme
Court to fix than private property rights.
But, what do you call it when multi-national corporations (e.g.
Monsanto, ADM) control all grain seeds, via patents, GMOs, and chemical
controls? I still haven't figured out how a corporation can be allowed
to patent a life form.
What do you call it when all beef is controlled by the likes of Tyson,
Cargill, et al, and imported meat receives the coveted USDA stamp of
approval? What do you call it when all pork is controlled and imported
from overseas by Smithfield?
What do you call it when imported agricultural products grown with
illegal chemicals in foreign countries (Mexico), and imported beef
products contain life threatening contaminants, packing house residuals
(Brazil), and potential disease (Brazil and Japan's BSE threat), and
the government will not implement Country Of Origin Labeling
legislation? Why doesn't the U.S. government want me to know where this
food comes from?
I do not mean to belabor the obvious, with these ongoing real events
now taking place in our country, but you must agree that if one thinks
oil dependency on the Middle East is a major problem, just wait until
our food supply system is controlled by agribusiness, their USDA
puppets, Wall Street, and foreign governments.
The current lobbyist scandals in Congress pale by comparison to what is
taking place in our national agricultural system. Actions now underway
by agribusiness and the USDA will seal the fate of the American family
farm and the American consumer. The NAIS is but one step in the overall
Henry, you can render a great service to the citizens of this country
by looking into the rest of the USDA/Agribusiness greasy iceberg, and
reporting on it. I promise that you will find the overall strategy of
agribusiness, and its future plans to control your foodstuffs beyond
belief, and very scary.
No plant diversity, no variations, everything monoculture hybrids, and
no controls on quality, origins, or nutrition should raise major
concerns. But, Americans will likely continue to buy from the "Lowest
Prices Always" businesses that feed on the bottom, right next to
agribusiness and the USDA.
Edward H. Ey
East Branch Farm