The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) listening sessions taking place across the country came to Kentucky last month. Wendell Berry, the agrarian poet and small farm activist, was there.
Story after story from these listening sessions has confirmed one thing: small farmers across the country are 100% opposed to the NAIS legislation. As you probably already know, NAIS promises to require every single livestock animal in America to be identified and tagged — no matter the size of the operation. So, you’ve got a few backyard chickens? Some milking goats? A small free-range pig farm? Say hello to expensive tagging & government paperwork. Not only will NAIS be so burdensome as to put many small scale farmers out of business, but it is a huge infringement on our liberties.
Thankfully, Wendell Berry is a passionate man, well versed in civil disobedience.
Read the text of his testimony:
The need to trace animals was made by the confined animal industry – which are, essentially, disease breeding operations. The health issue was invented right there. The remedy is to put animals back on pasture, where they belong. The USDA is scapegoating the small producers to distract attention from the real cause of the trouble. Presumably these animal factories are, in a too familiar phrase, “too big to fail”.
This is the first agricultural meeting I’ve ever been to in my life that was attended by the police. I asked one of them why he was there and he said: “Rural Kentucky”. So thank you for your vote of confidence in the people you are supposed to be representing. (applause) I think the rural people of Kentucky are as civilized as anybody else.
But the police are here prematurely. If you impose this program on the small farmers, who are already overburdened, you’re going to have to send the police for me. I’m 75 years old. I’ve about completed my responsibilities to my family. I’ll lose very little in going to jail in opposition to your program – and I’ll have to do it. Because I will be, in every way that I can conceive of, a non-cooperator.
I understand the principles of civil disobedience, from Henry Thoreau to Martin Luther King. And I’m willing to go to jail to defend the young people who, I hope, will still have a possibility of becoming farmers on a small scale in this supposedly free country. Thank you very much. (applause, cheers)
Did you catch that? Wendell Berry will go to jail if NAIS becomes law!
Fellow Food Renegades, it\’s time to join Wendell Berry in fighting back. If you haven’t done so already, visit NoNAIS.org and find out what you can do to help! There are many different ways to get involved in this fight, the least of which is becoming a thorn in your congressperson’s side.
I owe a special thanks to Kim Hartke at Hartke is Online for bringing Wendell Berry’s comments to my attention.
This post is part of today’s Fight Back Fridays blog carnival, hosted right here at Food Renegade. For more news, anecdotes, recipes, and tips related to finding, growing, cooking, and eating Real Food, go check it out!
(photo by geoffandsherry)