We have an opportunity now to stop an assault on small farms, nourishing food and animal welfare thanks to a bill (SB 486) introduced by Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) that will prevent the implementation in Indiana of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

The NAIS would require every farm or homestead containing even one farm animal to be registered in a satellite tracking network and every farm animal to be registered and tagged electronically.

Cloaked in the rhetoric of national security (it’s part of the Patriot Act), the NAIS’s stated intent is to contain the spread of infectious disease in farm animal populations. But the program was dreamed up by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, whose members include the NAIS’s economic beneficiaries — Cargill, Monsanto, microchip ID manufacturers and large livestock interests. It remains to be seen why their scheme is necessary given protections already in place.

The NAIS amounts to an unwarranted and misguided intrusion into the work of responsible, small-scale animal husbandry. Its strictures fall most heavily on small farmers, who will be required to pay fees at every turn and to purchase new technology. The added costs and hassle are likely to sink many farmers already operating within slim profit margins.

With small farmers out of the picture, our food is hardly food at all, as industrialization renders it devoid of nutrients, toxic and tainted by cruelty.

Small-scale, responsible farming is our protection against disease. Small, pasture-based farms offer animals room to roam and the ability to eat a health-promoting diet that increases their immunity (and ours). In industrial agriculture settings, pain, stress, inappropriate food and concentrated populations provide optimal conditions for the spread of any disease.

The NAIS would strengthen the hand of disease-producing agriculture at the expense of the health-giving kind. Our legislators must hear from us.

Natalie Dobie

Indianapolis

 

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