State surveillance plan for animals goes public
Gun owners don't have to do it. Pedophiles don't have to do it. AIDS carriers don't have to do it. But, apparently, my chickens and sheep are dangerous and will be subject to constant surveillance once the National Animal Identification System becomes mandatory.
Late last week, the Agency of Agriculture published the Draft Premises Registration Rulemaking. This nine-page document includes the following key provisions:
1. Biennial registration renewal is required;
2. Those who keep livestock in this state will register their premises with the agency. For the purposes of this rule, livestock includes cattle, sheep, goats, equine, deer, American bison, swine, poultry, pheasant, Chukar/partridge, Coturnix quail, camelids and ratites. This term shall include cultured trout (6 VSA §1151);
3. Registration does not create any "ownership" rights that do not otherwise exist. It merely identifies a location in this state at which livestock are kept. The unique premises code remains with that location, even if the registrant changes (some exceptions apply);
4. Operators of livestock facilities currently licensed by the agency (dairy farms, cervid farms, animal markets, livestock dealer premises, livestock transporter premises, slaughter establishments, equine quarantine facilities, and rendering establishments) must register the facilities licensed to them and may not let others register those premises for them. Generally, license holders will be able to register as part of their license renewal;
5. The registration requirement under this rule will be implemented in a two-tiered process. Livestock operations that sell product to the public will need to register within six months. Those who keep livestock as a hobby or for personal use will need to register within one year;
6. There is no fee to register livestock premises. A person may register online or in writing on forms provided by the agency. Forms will be readily available from the agency and/or contract agent. The agency will send biennial renewal forms to registrants to make renewal as easy as possible. Renewals, like initial registrations, may be transacted online;
7. Each registrant must provide the following information: Registrant's legal name, trade names if any, mailing address, and phone number; primary premises location and up to three secondary locations included in the registered premises; name and phone number of a contact person with knowledge of livestock movements to and from all locations comprising the premises, if different from above; type(s) of livestock operation (such as farm, slaughterhouse, etc); type(s) of livestock kept; the information is protected and confidential under 6 VSA §61.
The agency has also scheduled public hearings. You can find the schedule on the agency's Web site.
Whether you are a farmer or not, you must come out for the hearings. Consumers are going to have to share the financial burden, taxes will have to go up to pay for the program once the grant from the USDA runs out. Consumers will also face a further degrading of the quality of food, higher food prices, and loss of the "buy local" movement. And once RFID chips are considered normal in animals, people will not be far behind.