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USDA, Codex, meet in surfers' paradise to strengthen animal identification trace-back

By Henry Lamb
web posted November 26, 2007

Staffers from the USDA will travel to Surfers' Paradise in Queensland, Australia, to participate in a meeting of the Codex Alimentarius, November 26 - 30.  Why?  To continue developing international rules and regulations that govern what you eat.

USDA says that "The Codex Alimentarius Commission was established in 1963 by two  United Nations organizations, the Food and Agriculture Organization  (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Through adoption of food standards, codes of practice, and other guidelines developed by its committees, and by promoting their adoption and implementation by governments, Codex seeks to protect the health of consumers and ensure that fair practices are used in trade."             

Among the several interesting agenda items is this: "Discussion Paper on the Need for further guidance on Traceability/Product Tracing."

This is U.N.-speak for "let's tighten the regulations on animal identification and trace-back."  This item has been on the Codex agenda for several years now.  Whether the USDA took the idea of animal identification to the Codex, or brought the idea home from a Codex meeting, cannot be determined for certain.  What is certain is this: the idea was cultivated by the members of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, consisting of organizations that stand to profit from the program.  It was the NIAA that asked the USDA to develop a National Animal Identification Program, as far back as 2002. 

A casual look at the NIAA membership reveals why it is so important to them.  Companies such as Digital Angel and the other technology manufacturers can reap windfall profits if government requires every animal, and every property where livestock animals reside, to bear special RFID tags and tag reading equipment.

State departments of agriculture see a massive full-employment act, with expanding budgets and bureaucracies to monitor the program.   Trade organizations are falling at the feet of the USDA, seeking grants to develop and manage federally approved databases in public/private partnerships.                                                                                            

The animal identification program is mandatory in England.  U.S. animal owners should see the form required of goat and sheep owners.   Cattle owners must have a 66-page "Cattle Owners Handbook"seven-page license, and each cow must have a passport.   Non-compliance results in confiscation and slaughter - without compensation.  Unconfirmed reports puts the cost of this program at $69 per head sold.

Australia also has mandated an animal identification program.  It is similar to the U.K. program because it is constructed on the European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS).
Producers are required to complete and submit many forms such as this form one of 4 permission to move form.

Both the United Kingdom and Australia are participants in the Codex Alimentarius Commission and are working to make the animal identification scheme mandatory world-wide.  The USDA is doing its best to comply with the ever-expanding international regulations, but American producers are not cooperating as well as the subjects of the European Union.

American producers, however, need the help of other non-farm Americans who value individual freedom.   If government can mandate the identification and reporting of movements of livestock animals, the same government can mandate the identification and reporting of pets, and of virtually any other private property. 

The purpose of the 4th Amendment is to guarantee that every American is secure is his person, house, papers and property - unless probable cause for search and seizure is demonstrated to a judge.  This animal identification system completely ignores this fundamental principle. 

The USDA and Codex Alimentarius hide behind the claim that the program is necessary to promote food safety.  Nothing is further from the truth.  This program is about control by the government, and profits for the manufacturers of the equipment, profits for the meat packers and exporters, payrolls for expanded bureaucracies, and pain for the producers and the people who ultimately must pay higher prices for the food they eat.

All Americans would do well to join forces with the people who are opposing this program in the United States.  It will take a groundswell of outrage from across the nation to gain the attention of election-year politicians.  All politicians, both state and federal, need to hear from American citizens who refuse to allow their government to impose upon them the incredible burden the European Union is imposing upon its citizens.

Even though the USDA insists that its program is "voluntary," don't believe it for a minute.  The USDA already supports, with grants, states that make the program mandatory.  The USDA supports the requirement by state fair boards to require 4-H and FFA kids to be registered in the program as a condition of showing their animals at the state fair.  If the USDA ever gets its "voluntary" program assembled, you can rest assured that it is only a matter of time before the program will become mandatory, with enforcement penalties as brutal as the United Kingdom's. ESR

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.


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