NAIS, Indie Ranchers and California Food Safety

Could California be a step closer toward determining its own food safety standards?

By Chris Hinyub
California Independent Voter Network

Most pathogens are introduced at slaughter and packinghouses, where animal tracing ends, and deregulated, self-inspection begins (under HACCP).

In response to overwhelming public opposition to its livestock tracing policies, the USDA announced last week that it is revising the standards for its National Animal Identification System. In a surprising yet welcome move, a federal agency is abandoning a blanket policy approach on a heavily lobbied issue and all because of grassroots action. Yet this may not be the lasting victory the majority of farmers and ranchers were hoping for. Enforcement of new federal mandates for animal identification may simply be shifted to the states in an end-run around the sovereignty of California farmers.

In 2002, technology and agribusiness interests merged, forming the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA). Lobbying pressure then made animal identification a national policy issue. By the following year, the USDA was happy to oblige considering export markets were demanding peace of mind in the wake of the Mad Cow Disease scare. The plan was to tag and track the movements of all livestock in the country with radio frequency transmitters or ISO microchips, all in the name of food safety.

The USDA’s initial support of the project involved a policy of voluntary cooperation. We all know where “voluntary proposals” lead when federal agencies are involved, especially when their stated goal is 100% participation. Instead of simply requiring testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) for all meats produced for export, the USDA saw a “cheaper” route to appeasement of foreign trade partners by having the appearance of food safety.

Never mind that such outbreaks as Mad Cow Disease were the result of a centralized food supply and that traceability of livestock could only be ineffectual in preventing or even discovering the origin of the majority of foodborne illnesses since traceability stops at the slaughter house.

Read full post at California Independent Voter Network

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