Monday, February 25, 2008

.........but NAIS will keep you safe OR will it?

As I am sure everyone knows Westland/Hallmark Meat Company recently got in trouble for it's inhumane treatment of animals and that the meat recall is now widening. Disregarding the blatant mistreatment of the cows with forklifts and prods the real issue here is the "ill health" of these cows.
For the last few years we (farmers, consumers, Joe Public etc) have been told by the USDA that by implementing a complete and total animal tagging and tracking system that we would have a safer and more secure food supply.
However I would like to use this recent issue of beef recall as a indicator that the NAIS program (aka tagging and tracking system) will NOT have the intended or promised effect AND as such is a complete waste of tax payer dollars. I have always been against NAIS because of its' obvious "Big Brother is watching you" aspect more than the food safety part ---though the promise of food safety by using it has always has been one of the major flaws in my opinion. With this recent problem though we can be assured that NOTHING the national animal identification system can do would have stopped this problem from occurring.
Lets look at the reasons why it would not have helped:

1. The meat company KNEW the animals were sick yet did NOT call the inspector to come and inspect them. Nais can not stop this problem. In no way will Nais effect change when you have "bad" people controlling the system.

2. IF the pictures/film has not been taken of these animals they would have (and have been) ground up and no one would ever have known. Supposedly 25% of all that has been recalled has already been eaten in school lunches. Nais can't do a thing about this and the tags are long gone after the animal is in a package of meat---no trace back available here. However testing our meat after the fact as they do in Europe---now that makes sense and doesn't infringe upon farmer rights or privacy nor does it entail pricey tags for every animal or huge data banks to show where an animal moved to or when it did it. Even if there was trace back available can we say with certainty---seeing the blatant abuse on film---that the original farmer covered up the problem or did it occur at some point during the cattle's stay at the facility. In other words---who would be responsible?

3. This large corporation called Westland/Hallmark Meat Co.----DId you know that they are exempt from application of Nais. So how would that have helped us anyway?

Nais---only helps to destroy small farmers and give creeps like Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. a leg up. As if they need it. It also doesn't do a damn thing to protect us from "tainted" meat. Traceback only works if people are honest and everyone is involved in the program. It doesn't work if only some people are compelled to be in it but others---that have money and lobbyist---are not. It also won't work anyway once the animal is killed and ground----there's no tag in a batch of hamburger meat so that you can use your RFID reader at home and know who raised it and where it came from. The tag is long gone. What happens when someone gets sick, they test the meat and find that "oops" there may have been some sick cows or possibly e coli got in the meat (e coli is much more likely than a cow disease)? That tag obviously doesn't do a thing to help after the fact.

So my question is this: Just exactly HOW does tagging help. Seems to me an inspection system more as the Europeans have would be a much safer solution. After all if I am forced to pay taxes I would like those taxes to go to something that actually works AND creates jobs. NOT to a program that will put small farmers out of business, make it illegal for someone to raise their own food without government intervention AND not make us one iota safer in the end.

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