Friday, February 24, 2006

If the NAIS was applied to the music industry

As a hypothetical exercise let's take the NAIS and apply it to the music industry.

Say you get all these 700 Clubbers elected to office and they create a Department of the Arts. And they decide that obscenity is no longer legal. And to help them out all kinds of news stories appear in media outlets controlled by their friends in the news media about obscene music and how it might cause an epidemic of evil.

So to enforce this law they create a National Arts Identification System, staffed almost entirely of former music industry executives.

They send out an Arts Inspector to every concert and show and shindig in America, even if you're playing in the corner at a party, and for any band not on a major label, they charge $10 per song plus milage to inspect your music, regardless of whether it contains obscenity.

For the major label guys there is a Arts Inspector at every arena and amphitheatre, and he only charges $10 per show for them. They are making several thousand dollars a night so it's nothing to them.

A small independent band might make $100, so if they play 10 songs, that's all their money.

So the only options left to these guys is to quit or charge a higher cover that no one will pay. So effectively this would shut their gigging down altogether. Even though they only make a tiny percentage of the market compared to the big music industry, they are shut out, based on some unfounded fear that obscene music will cause an epidemic of evil.

I think that's a pretty accurate equivalent.

Although with music, it could never happen in the USA. We pride ourselves on free speech. People are educated about that and wouldn't stand for it. Unfortunately not a lot of people are educated about food issues - one reason might be because big food companies spend billions in advertising in news media outlets.

More on the NAIS

Q: But isn't a way to trace food back to where it came from a good thing?

It certainly is. And the best trace-back system is to buy food at a grocery store that stocks local food, and even better, direct from the farmer who produced the food. That way you won't be buying food from thousands of miles away, or from countries who use chemicals and handling methods that are considered so unsafe that they are illegal here in the USA.

The USDA already has a trace back system that works. Say I want to sell chicken at a market. Well, I first have to take that chicken to a USDA inspected poultry processing plant, that has a USDA inspector on-site to inspect every single piece of poultry that goes through. My chicken will be killed and defeathered, then they'll take his guts out and wash him. Then if the USDA inspector says it's an okay chicken, it is placed in a bag that has a label that says USDA Certified, the USDA number of the poultry processing plant, the date it was processed, as well as which farm it came from.

The USDA wants a 48 hour trace back system, but you could trace back local, small scale birds in as little as five minutes.

Large scale, multinational operations ship their birds all over the world. When you eat Tyson chicken it could be from anywhere in the world, including places where Asain bird flu is actually a problem (not North America).

What the new system is design to do (by the big agribusiness who designed it) is drive small farmers and homesteaders out of business. Even though small independent livestock farmers only make up 1% of the market, apparently it's enough to threaten huge multinational companies into getting their partners in government to enact legislation..

How will the cost of the NAIS hurt small farmers and not big food businesses? If the small farmer has to pay to have each of his small flock animals tracked, won't the big guy have to pay for all of his animals?

Under the NAIS draft plan, The small farmer will have to have each of his animals tagged with a 15 digit number at an estimated cost of $10 each, plus USDA inspector milage. The large producer can have one number for his entire flock of say 10,000 chickens.

And, think back to economics 101, the bigger you are, the cheaper you can produce, but the lesser the quality of what you produce. A small poultryman pays a lot more per bird than Tyson chicken. So, Tyson, with their millions of dollars, and USDA inspectors at even every production facility (thus no milage will be paid), will be able to implement a streamlined system that will cost them way less than it does a small scale producer.

The general goal of a small farmer is to sell high quality food to a small customer base and make a living. The goal of Tyson chicken is to infinitely increase profits for their shareholders by selling the cheapest thing edible, produced as cheaply as possible to millions of people.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

National Animal Identification System

The USDA is trying to implement a plan to track every animal in the United States. This system, designed by big agribusiness, will destory small farmers whose main income is in livestock, as the costs of this program will be hoisted onto the shoulders of the producers. I will have more on this soon.

This from

The National Animal ID program was originally designed to give the big beef producers help in getting export markets which required disease controls. The idea is that every single livestock animal in the United States will be identified and tagged. All livestock animal movements will be tracked, logged and reported to the government. The benefit is to the big factory farms who probably do need this type of regulation. They get to do single ID’s for large groups of animals. Small farmers, pet owners and homesteaders will have to tag and track every single animal.

There are no exceptions - even small farms that sell direct to local consumers will be required to pay the fees and file all the paper work on all their animals. Even horse, llama and other pet owners will be required to participate in NAIS. Homesteaders who raise their own meat and grandma with her one egg hen will also have to register their homes as ‘farm premises’ and obtain a Premise ID, tag all their animals and submit all the paperwork and fees. Absurd? Yes - There are no exceptions under the current NAIS plan. The USDA has slipped this plan in the back door without any legislation. This is going to be very expensive and guess who is going to pay for it in higher food prices… You!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why We Fight

This is probably the best documentary that's come out on the military-industrial complex. You can watch it here in its entirety. This is what I mean by Follow the Money: