Heads Up

Heads-up to 4-H & FFA families

by Leellen Koroulis customdraft@earthlink.net

This letter is offered to give a ‘heads-up’ to 4-H families and anyone who owns livestock in the state of Colorado and isn’t already aware of this issue.

The following is a statement made by Dr. Jeff Goodwin, Director of 4-H Youth Development Programs, Colorado State University, on March 28, 2007: “4-H is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). An effective National Animal Identification System (NAIS) protocol is important to protect the livestock industry. In support of this national initiative, all Colorado 4-H livestock project animals (beef and dairy cattle, sheep, swine, goat, poultry, llama and horse) must have a premises registration. As of October 1, 2007, premises registration with NAIS will be required at livestock project enrollment in the Colorado 4-H program. The Colorado FFA program will have an identical policy beginning October 2007. County fair boards are also encouraged to adopt similar practices.” Another document entitled “ A Few Thoughts about Premises Registration in the State of Colorado,” revise d March 29, 2007, goes on to state … “The first step of NAIS is premises registration in all segments of the livestock industry (emphasis added)…” (page 1 of 8)

Dr. Goodwin further states in “Why Colorado 4-H Requires a Premises Registration:” “Even though premises registration is currently a voluntary program at the federal level, most agriculturists believe it will become essential (emphasis added) in the future. Colorado is taking the lead on this issue and will become a national model for addressing contentious issues such as this by bringing a broad coalition of stakeholders together to ensure “the right thing” (emphasis added) gets done.” (page 9 of 9)

“The bottom line,” states Dr. Goodwin, “We stay the course, and in two years this will be a non-issue.”

To recap, premises registration is currently voluntary at the federal level, but will be mandatory for 4-H/FFA families in October 2007 as a part of registration in a livestock project. It will become essential (mandatory) throughout all segments of the livestock industry, according to Dr. Goodwin.

The NAIS is to be implemented in a three stages.

1. Premises Registration. Every person owning (in whole or in part) any livestock animal would have to register the premises where the livestock is held within the state. Livestock animals include cattle (beef and dairy), hogs, sheep and goats, chickens and other poultry, horses, bison, deer, elk, alpacas, llamas and others.

2. Animal Identification. There will be two levels of animal identification: individual animal or group or lot identification. Most animals in the program would need to be individually identified with a unique 15-digit number. Animals would either be implanted with a microchip or tagged with a radio frequency device, or otherwise physically identified. The tag will have to bear the entire 15-digit number, with the number easily read. For at least some species, radio-frequency identification devices would be required. Group or lot identification could only be used where groups of animals are managed together from birth to death and not commingled with other anim als. In practice only large confinement producers of poultry and swine would be able to avail themselves to this exception to the individual tagging rule. If animals do not meet the requirements for group identification, they will have to be individually identified.

3. Animal tracking. Every time a tag is applied, lost or an animal is missing or needs to be re-tagged, the event would have to be reported to the government within 24 hours. “Commingling events,” i.e., rodeos, horse shows, livestock shows, clinics, etc., will have to be reported to the government within 24 hours, including both public and private sales, regional shows and exhibitions. Livestock animal owners may choose their own Animal Tracking Database (ATD) for tracing certain individual animal or group/lot movements.

The premises registration itself is free, but the tagging, reporting and tracing are all at the expense of the livestock owner.

4-H/FFA families are the first to be mandated to comply with premises registration in the state of Colorado. I am a 4-H mother and have done extensive research on this matter as the issue seems to be staring me down and can no longer be avoided. I find the entire system to be in violation of the rights provided to me under the Constitution of the United States.

Something not widely advertised is that the entire NAIS program is still in DRAFT form. You may access a copy of this lengthy document at the Colorado Department of Agriculture website. The word DRAFT is watermarked on every single page of the entire document. I encourage you to read this document. It seems quite insidious to me that 4-H/FFA families are being mandated to have their premises identified into a program that is in DRAFT form. It would be similar to being mandated by a government entity to acquire a loan at a bank chosen by the government and, after the loan is signed, wait to find out how much you borrowed and what the terms and conditions of the loan may be. Once your premises have been registered, they are forever registered regardless of what changes are made in the NAIS program.

According to Dr. Goodwin, 4-H agents are agents of the USDA. The entire NAIS system is still in DRAFT form. No one can say with any certainty what will be required of those who have registered their premises until NAIS guidelines have been finalized. Whatever assurances you may be given by anyone (including myself) regarding what may or may not be required of you in reference to the NAIS program, can be no more than pure speculation.

If this were not the case, I do not believe the word DRAFT would be so clearly watermarked across each page.

It may seem sad to readers that my child will be prohibited from showing a lamb at the 2007 Colorado State Fair and at any county fair in the state of Colorado in 2008 (I am certain to be chided), but it is important. As a private citizen who has neither been accused of nor convicted of any crime, I believe it is a small price to pay to maintain freedom from constant government surveillance. If foregoing one fair or twenty fairs will maintain the freedom we currently enjoy for my grandchildren, the sacrifice must be made. Many have fought wars and died to maintain these freedoms.

I am one 4-H mother who has not received any grants, has not been promised any grants, has no corporate ties, am not up for election or re-election, owes nothing to any lobbyist and am an agent for no one, other than my family. I am one 4-H mother asking simply that anyone considering registering their premises under the NAIS program do their own research on this subject. This is much bigger than 4-H. I started my research by simply typing the words ‘NAIS Opposition’ into a search engine and ask that you do the same. It only takes a few minutes.