Last week our local Cattlemen’s Association held a meeting about the upcoming Animal ID system. Our state is encouraging us to sign up our premises. They say it’ll help the government track disease. Fair enough. I hate disease as much as the next person. My cows are registered. I don’t let goats and sheep on my farm unless I know about the farm they came from. If a horse comes on my farm, it doesn’t get near anything else alive for two weeks. But If I sign up my premises, though, can someone from the government come in and kill my animals because they’re suspect? What will they do when they find out where a diseased animal came from?
It’s obvious, even if you’re not a disease expert, that animals on a suspect farm will be quarantined. What about the surrounding farms, though? What if I have a neighbor, say, a mile down the road? Our farms are separated from each other by another farm. The farm between us doesn’t even have cattle.
Say the government comes in because one of my neighbors animals went through the sale barn with some nasty disease. This is one of those diseases that’s so bad quarantining won’t do. The government says they’ve gotta kill all his animals. Can they come and kill mine? What if all mine test negative for the disease? Because I’m near another farm that had a disease on it, will they spare my cattle or kill them?
If I register my premises, what rights do I have? Do I have to let people on my farm whenever they want to check my cattle at any hour? Will they have control over my animals? A lot of cows and pigs and such that weren’t anything like sick were killed a few years ago in England and Scotland. So many were killed that one hog breeder in Mississippi now has more lines of the breed he raises than exist now in England, the native country of this breed. It’s scary to think that so many animals that weren’t sick were killed that whole lines of breeds were wiped out.
Will all my hard work and the animals I love be destroyed just like they were in England and Scotland? What am I telling the government they can do if I sign up my premises? What’s more, why do they need my signature and what does my signature bind me to do? What rights am I giving up if I sign up my premises?