What's NAIS? It's the National Animal Identification System. It would require that every small farmer tag his or her animals with a microchip or RFID (radio-frequencey identification). The supposed benefit is that we'd know where our meat comes from.
NAIS would require that any of us who own a couple of chickens in order to get our own fresh eggs would have to have those chickens tagged. Kids' ponies would have to be tagged.
The bottom line is that the time and money required for a small farmer to tag every last farm animal can be prohibitive. Some have estimated a cost of at least $30 per animal when labor and time are taken into account. Moreover, NAIS would not make our food supply safer. From judith2007's diary on Daily Kos:
The first reason NAIS will do nothing for food safety is that it ends when the animal dies. According to the CDC, most food borne illnesses are the result of contamination at the slaughterhouse and food processing/ handling facilities. And with a typical burger patty containing meat from 50 to 100 cattle from multiple states and two to four countries, tracking individual live animals doesn’t translate to safer burgers. NAIS ends before the real problem begins!
And the ultimate effect of NAIS will be to make food less safe. NAIS favors factory farms and burdens small and sustainable farms. The Big Ag companies ensured that NAIS had a loophole for them. Factory confinement farms, raising thousands of chickens or hogs in a building filled with their own waste and fed poisons and hormones, would be able to use "group identification." Yet small farmers, such as a pastured poultry farmer, will be stuck tagging each and every animal, right down to their individual chickens. It’s not just an issue of cost, although that is significant – it’s also a question of time and labor. For many farmers, it simply would be impossible to comply.
That's right: the big factory farms that are the source of most food-borne illness could use "group identification"--now how helpful is that in tracing an individual animal? Yet the expense and time of individual ID would be made mandatory for small farmers who sell locally--whose customers are local people whom the farmer has to look in the eye and deal with on a personal level.
I KNOW where my beef comes from, because I buy it from an actual person--the person who actually raised the cow. Why should he have to put an ID in/on his cows?
This is one more obstacle for small farmers that gives Big Ag an advantage in the marketing wars.
You can help by visiting Change.org and voting to stop NAIS. Change.org is sponsoring a competition of ideas to be presented to President-Elect Obama. The site offers an array of issues to vote on. If NAIS makes it into the top ten, it will undoubtedly receive media coverage, which is sorely needed, when it, along with the other nine, are presented to Obama on January 16 at the National Press Club.
Please go to Change.org and vote to stop NAIS. It could make the difference between having a choice between factory-farmed food and real food.