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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

No Thanks USDA, Farmers Don't Want NAIS

I would like to thank USDA and NAIS for the opportunity to testify against animal ID at all the listening sessions held across the country.

I'd like to thank them, but I won't.

In order to attend the listening session in Jefferson City on June 9th, I'll have to leave home no later than four in the morning. Instead, I'll drive down the night before and pay for a hotel room just so I can be rested for the meeting and for the drive back home that night.

I'll drive nearly 600 miles in my farm pickup, spend almost 10 hours on the road and buy 40 gallons of fuel at about $2.35 per gallon. I'll eat 4 meals away from home. I and many others like me will pay our own way and lose work time on the farm, just so we can testify against mandatory animal ID.

I'd like to thank USDA, whose employees were paid not only their usual salaries to hold the listening session, but per diem and travel expenses, to say nothing of the employees of the corporate proponents of animal ID who are probably reimbursed at least as well, who probably ate a Kansas City strip for dinner last night because they were on the company tab. I wish I could feel gratitude simply for being included, but what I really feel is that regardless of the outcome, I have been robbed.

I was robbed of time with my family, of work, of miles on my farm truck which will wear out way too soon as it is, and of all the money I'll spend just to get there and back when I would rather not have spent it (at least not like that) at all.

The whole time farmers and ranchers are working to do our job we are subjected to a propaganda campaign with the outrageous message that the same folks who give us salmonella infected food and 10,000 head livestock confinements are more efficient than family farms of a smaller size. We give CAFOs hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tax credits and EQIP grants to help them deal with floods of manure created purely by their own excess. We allow big packers and processors to be self inspected because government inspection is too cumbersome to cope with. We watch as millions of pounds of contaminated beef are recalled even though most is already consumed before the results of testing, or numbers of sickened consumers, are known. We accept imports of food that we know are contaminated with antibiotics and illegal, even poison, additives, all in the name of "free trade", and we rely on watch dog groups to keep us advised of the facts about that because our government says that un-enforced 'guidelines' and 'treaties' are enough.

When big retailers book huge profits from meat grown at a loss on American farms there are no hearings or listening sessions about the reasons for such a disparity between the price farmers receive versus that which consumers pay. We act as though hiding livestock inventories in unreportable places across foreign borders or behind contractual agreements is a right of big business and has no impact on markets.

When disease originates outside the US and comes here, we are told that we must reveal in the most exacting of ways what livestock we have and where they are daily even though ours are not the livestock causing the concerns in the first place. An imported or CAFO raised animal wouldn't be subject to individual animal ID like ours, because it'd come from farms so large that they'd have just one number for thousands of head, or maybe no number at all.

We are told we mustn't do anything to harm efficiencies of scale--or profits.

Yet, when small farmers and ranchers can no longer sustain their families through honest labor, there are no coast to coast listening sessions to inquire why profits disappeared even though there are more, hungry world consumers than ever before.

We already know the answer even without government 'fact finding'.

After months, even years of hearing first that animal ID would be good for markets, then that it was needed to protect against terrorism, next that it would control food contamination, and now that we need it to prevent disease, I am exhausted by unending propaganda and unlimited excuse.

We independent farmers and ranchers have told our government repeatedly that this is bad. When a country like the United States can leak via the internet the locations of more than 260 of its nuclear assets, it can never hope to keep the location and numbers of RFIDed farm animals across this broad nation a secret from big agribusiness, some of which is based in foreign lands. Especially when those records are stored by an agency equipped with too many revolving doors connecting the two.

I'd like to thank USDA, but what they propose won't make livestock healthy, it won't create more competition in the marketplace, it won't keep America safer, and it won't improve my profits. I'd like to thank USDA, but what their plan offers to do is increase my costs, wrap me in red tape, and make it impossible for me to earn a living producing food while it grants control of that production to corporate giants.

So I'll save my thanks for when they go back to being government for the people, and finally restore my right to do honorable work for a free nation.

Richard R. Oswald
15593 245th
Langdon, MO 64446
(660) 744 2513 cell
(660) 787 0222