April 20, 2006
Napoleon Comes To The Real Animal Farm

There’s nothing in this story to suggest that humans are next. Besides, this isn’t about Big Brother, I would suggest that it’s all about little farmers vs. huge corporate farms. Our sweet Mabel the cat doesn’t like it too much either, and when she doesn’t like something, she means serious business.

Big brother will be watching your Animal Farm.

At least that’s the grim Orwellian scenario some see outlined in a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plan to electronically tag and track all United States livestock.

The program, known as the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), would include farms and other places where livestock are kept — from hobby farms and homesteads to slaughterhouses, veterinarians' offices and fairground exhibitions. NAIS aims at tracking animals and premises exposed to disease within 48 hours of an outbreak.

As early as this fall, the first phase of the plan — premises identification — could become mandatory for Vermont farmers and livestock owners.

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[…]

“…we have many constitutional issues,” [Doug] Flack said of NAIS.

Should the government be able to come take your animals when there is little evidence of disease other than proximity? Is it being implemented legally? Is it even constitutional to track the movements of private property with the aid of a computerized system?
“Livestock animals are legally a form of personal property. It is unprecedented for the United States government to conduct large-scale computer-aided surveillance of its citizens simply because they own a common type of property,” writes New York lawyer Mary Zanoni. “Surveillance of small-scale livestock owners is like the government subjecting people to surveillance for owning a couch, a TV, a lawnmower, or any item of personal property.”

Flack drew a comparison to the Red Scare and the culture of fear seen in Sen. Joseph McCarthy's time. He said that fully-implemented NAIS would also turn vets, feed store operators and slaughterhouses into police for the system. “Basically to turn us in or not do business with us,” Flack said. “This is an extremely serious thing. It's about as bad as it gets.”

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Posted by Buck Batard at April 20, 2006 01:44 PM
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