FYI from Roni Sylvester, Rancher in Colorado and Wyoming and keeper of who is leading the fight to throw back big government meddling and those who use it from their profit and our loss.
Jack Venrick
Enumclaw, Washington
----- Original Message -----
From: Roni Sylvester
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 11:44 AM
Subject: Children in livestock world face threat of exploitation - by Roni Bell Sylvester

Children in livestock world face threat of exploitation            
For over a hundred years, the straight forward communications between brand inspectors, state veterinarians and livestock producers, proved out as affective ways to control animal diseases in the United States.
This honorable, affective way to handle serious business, never once compromised the privacy of livestock producer operations, or used a child to achieve desired herd protection results.
Then one day - a hundred years later,  livestock owners were told, “The only way  to safeguard the health of our state and national livestock herds, is through registration of your premise and each animal- into a national database. From there, we will be able to trace back of any and all animals within 48 hours from the time a disease is discovered.”
At first,  the United States Department of Agriculture tried to mandate registration with systems they called National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and  Premises ID.
The cost of identifying livestock would fall solely on livestock producers; those individuals who develop herd genetics to breed, born, and raise livestock to the point of sale to buyers - who then “feed out” the animal.
Once the animal has the desired market weight, it is sold to a packing company that slaughters and readies the meat for consumer purchase.
The livestock producer is a price “receiver,” in that the price of their product is determined by the buyer. Regardless the retail price of packaged meat, the livestock producer never shares profit.
Foreign consumers demand superior American meat, and  packers fill that need.
Since trade requirements include “geographical indicators...Trademark”, presumably packers supported this idea of “marked animals;” for they didn’t have to pay for  ID devices and would enjoy  margin profits from their exportation.
In contrast, the  livestock producer would be weighted under the cost of implementing such devices, and receive no market benefits to offset those costs.
Who would stand to make the biggest profits off identification devices? The manufacturers. Specially if they could get our government to mandate purchase of their product.
As the mandatory cloud loomed over cattle ranchers and other livestock producers, they made known their concerns: Cost, lack of USDA consultation with them, a dangerously accessible database that held their personal- Trademarked information, disallowance of pre-existing brand laws, and USDA’s inability to provide vaccine timely enough to prevent mortality.
No livestock owner wants mortality. Animal disposal and herd loss can devastate their livelihood within days. Recovery possibilities are zilch.
So maybe after listening to the livestock owners, the USDA  backed off “mandatory” registrations, and asked instead for “voluntary” cooperation.
Livestock owners thought the USDA would honor their word and keep NAIS and Premise ID voluntary.  But they didn’t. 
Federal appropriations were already in motion, and the recipients were compelled to perform.
Some of these grant monies went to extensions that oversee state fairs. Quite possibly this presented a new way for USDA to circuitously route back to “mandating” registration. How? By having state fairs arbitrarily  make Premise ID a forced requirement for any child who wanted to participate in showing their breeding animals at a fair.
After all,  the manufacturers still had inventory to unload, and packers had foreign markets to serve,  so apparently they put enough pressure on the USDA to open them up to the idea of using children to peddle their goods.
Exploitation is: To use unfairly for ones own advantage.  So please consider carefully,  whether or not the unfair use of our children,  for the conjoined advantages of manufacturers and packers, could be construed as “exploitation.”
As a lay person whose goal is to help readers better see the whole picture, I offer you a brief on the bug, virus, weed and disease history in the US.
Beginning in 1843, Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia was brought into the United States. 
In 1870 the US had its first outbreak of  foot-and-mouth disease, and by 1929 the last of nine outbreaks was eradicated.
And so they marched into the US; noxious weeds, virus, destructive insects and diseases including Bol Weevil, Malta fever, Exotic Newcastle; Bovine spongiform encephalophy; Medfly and Leafy Spurge.
Even though the  Tariff Act of 1930 was set to prohibit imports of meat and animals from countries infected with foot-and-mouth disease, and the installation of a 1970 high-security quarantine center for animals imported from countries with FMD and other exotic foreign animal diseases, the errant ones still pass though our borders.
Are you beginning to see the pattern of  disease introduction via importation?
This brings back the big questions: Why does  USDA request  livestock owners, within US borders,  identify their animals when it appears threat of disease outbreak comes from outside our borders?
And in spite of this hundred year disease stream into America, brand inspectors and state veterinarians continue doing a terrific job keeping our herds safe without any national database of animal and premise registrations.
If animal identification is a voluntary program for adults, why are they mandating it on our children? To pad “sign up” numbers so  federal grant dollars will flow freely?  To be little merchandisers of identification devices? To provide Trademark qualifications for packers?
I don’t see any connection between these actions by USDA and state fair directors, - and control of animal diseases.  Do you?
Don’t  they remind you of those unsavory hawkers who would troll low income neighborhoods, pick up a car load of kids, drive them to upper crust communities and dump them out to sell candy bars, wrapping paper or salted nuts?
Exploitation of children.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation has agents who sit at  computers 24-7,  looking for pedophiles, pornographers, anyone...who breaks the law by exploiting a child. When found, they’re held accountable for their actions, and prosecuted to the letter of the law.

Any state that is sincere in wanting to keep animals within disease free, should demand the USDA work with them in the following ways:
1) Prevention: Be pro-active and vaccinate all cattle, before they get a disease. Israel does this and it works!  The goal should always be to “save that animal!”
2) Aggressively work at borders to stop disease, virus, bug, weed from entering the US.
3) USDA could pay for preventive vaccine. Pre-vaccination would eliminate need for animal ID, because our animals would be protected.
4) Set up an emergency preparedness plan, whereby state veterinarians, brand inspectors, and a first responder team,  could immediately activate whatever action is deemed necessary including: Draw a control zone and  vaccinate or quarantine - within 6 hours of call for need.
5) Acknowledge pre-existing brands as recognizable identifications, and honor the continuation of communication between brand inspectors, state veterinarians and livestock owners.
The USDA should shift their money and focus to pre-vaccine and vaccine readiness.
The additional benefits of pre-vaccinated herds include: Counter terrorist actions; preserve  genetics and seedstock; the assurance America never suffers loss of international trade due to one diseased animal.
4-H and FFA programs are supposed to be safe environments where youngsters can learn skills that will serve them well as responsible, productive adults. 
Maintaining disease free herds for over a hundred years never once involved compromising the  privacy of a livestock producers operation, or abusing a child.
Now that you’re aware of what we face in trying to protect our children in the livestock world,  won’t you please join us and help stop the exploitation of our children?
Please call your county commissioners, state fair board directors, extension agents, state representatives and senators, and demand: “We will not allow you to  hold our children hostage in your program of exploitation! Free them right now!”
Thank you,
Roni Bell Sylvester
P.O. Box 155
La Salle, CO 80645
April 25, 2008