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Animal ID plan angers some farmers

by 5m Editor
27 October 2006, at 4:29pm

US - A thousand turkeys, 500 cattle, 300 pigs, 1,900 chickens and four generations of the Salatin family share the grassland on this 550-acre farm in the Shenandoah Mountains. Now, Joel Salatin is worried the government will make it impossible for his 25-year-old son and his two young grandsons to keep the family business going for the generations to come.

He has joined a growing national grass-roots movement against an ambitious new government disease-fighting program that asks every farm in the nation register its animals. The aim of the program, called the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), is to make it easier to track down animals during a disease outbreak that threatens humans and livestock.

Salatin calls the system "foolishness" that will put an unnecessary financial burden on family farms and won't do a thing to stop the spread of contagious livestock and poultry diseases.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture calls it an integral part of its effort to protect against the devastating health and economic consequences that could follow foot-and-mouth, avian influenza or any number of other barnyard maladies.

Already, the Agriculture Department has backed off plans to make the program mandatory. For now, at least, officials are stressing that it's voluntary. Salatin and other opponents worry the government will reverse course, or that slaughterhouses eventually will believe it's in their best interest to accept only tagged animals, in effect forcing farmers to comply.

Source: USA Today

5m Editor