Thursday, February 15, 2007

“Freedom-loving Texans planned this protest"

Protesters plan to take NAIS issue to Austin

February 14, 2007

Christina Childs
The Weatherford Democrat
Copyright 2007

Bovine bombardment is part of the most recent plan to thwart Texas legislators’ plan to implement a federally mandated animal identification system.

Protesters plan to tell state government officials, “Don’t Tag Texas,” March 2.

Farmers and ranchers will turnout in numbers at the state capitol that Friday, livestock in tow, to declare their discontent concerning the newly proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS), as well as the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC).

A media release from the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, said the protest is motivated by individual freedoms, which they fear could get trampled along the way.

“Freedom-loving Texans planned this protest because of two issues that threaten their way of life: The National Animal Identification System and the Trans-Texas Corridor,” the release stated.

“The NAIS and the TTC are national issues with their hearts in Texas,” said Judith McGeary, founder to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. “We hope that the sight of a veritable Noah’s Ark marching up Congress Avenue will reconnect Texas lawmakers to the people whose lives they are affecting and bring the attention of the entire country to bear.”

NAIS legislation was spurred as a result of heightened threats of foreign animal disease outbreak in the U.S.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Web site describes NAIS as, “a modern, streamlined-information system that helps producers and animal health officials respond quickly and effectively to animal disease events in the United States.”

The proposed system, at this point, is a voluntary State-Federal-Industry partnership. However, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance states there are some concerns when it comes to a possible mandate.

“NAIS is a corporate-agriculture plan being pushed by the federal government,” the release reads. “The Texas Animal Health Commission currently has the authority to make it mandatory at any time.

“If it does, then anyone who owns even one livestock animal — even just a chicken or a horse — will have to register their premises with the government, individually identify each animal and report movements to a database.”

Jon Green, Parker County extension agent-agriculture, said at this point, NAIS legislation is still up in the air, and his sentiments are mixed when it comes to the proposed system.

“Right now, that whole program has been put on hold,” Green said. “We’re kind of in the wait-and-see mode. I think it could have a positive impact just due to the fact that it allows animals to be traced back, and it would help in the case of a disease outbreak.

“But, it does put a little more on the part of livestock producers when it comes to tagging their animals and making sure everything is done before the animal leaves the premises.”

According to Mike Sweatt, county executive director for the Farm Service Agency, approximately 200 to 300 area producers stand to be affected if the new legislation becomes mandatory.

© 2007 The Weatherford Democrat:

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