Have you heard about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)? Basically, the government wants to put RFID tags on all domestic livestock and poultry so they’re in a database that will aid tracking down the source of any disease or foodborne pathogens. This sounds great in light of all the salmonella and e. coli scares we see on the news, right?
If you buy feedlot beef and factory farm chicken, then I’m sure NAIS will be of benefit to you. After all, these are the kind of animals that get sick in the first place.
But what if you buy meat from a small farm? A whole chicken at a farm near my house costs $15, but adding RFID tags to each chicken would add $2-$3 dollars to that. It would hurt my budget to pay more for the chicken, but I imagine the wonderful family who owns the farm would be hurt even worse – after all, they would be legally required to put tags on all the chickens, even those they don’t end up selling.
Why wouldn’t they end up selling them? Because $15 is a hefty price to pay already, and adding more money on top of that would cause some people to buy their meat elsewhere.
Or the farm family could just absorb the price of the tags and not pass them onto their customers – either way, it hurts their bottom line. This particular family, however, is getting by solely on their farm earnings. Dad is a contractor by trade, and this is a miserable economy for contractors.
If you want to protect small farmers, and if you don’t want your tax money funding this kind of government intervention, let your state representatives know. I’m still doing more research on all of this, but I really don’t think this would be beneficial unless it was on a voluntary basis. That way, small farmers could just choose to opt out.
What do you think?