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USDA Pushing Again For Electronic Tagging of Cattle

As a fellow homesteader writing for, I want to share a pressing issue that’s been on my mind lately. It’s about the USDA’s push for mandatory electronic identification for livestock, especially cattle. This topic is not just about animal health or food safety, as some claim, but it delves into the deeper waters of corporate interests, farmer burdens, and the future of our food systems.

Big meatpacking corporations, tech giants, and the USDA have been advocating for this electronic ID system for years. They say it’s for animal health and food safety, but that’s not true. The real motive? It’s about boosting international trade and profits for these meatpacking companies while tech companies rake in cash selling the necessary equipment. This comes at a high cost for us – the farmers and ranchers.

In 2010, a wave of opposition from organic farmers, conventional ranchers, livestock sale barns, horse owners, homesteaders, and conscious consumers who prefer American products successfully defeated this proposal. But now, it’s rearing its head again. The USDA is proposing a new rule to make electronic ID mandatory for cattle and bison.

Let’s be clear: this electronic ID isn’t solving any real problems. Our current, low-tech methods are working just fine for animal health. And for food safety? The tracking stops at the slaughterhouse, so it’s not helping there, either. The goal is to satisfy the monopolistic meatpackers, boosting their exports and control over the U.S. cattle industry.

This move towards mandatory electronic ID is a step backward, especially when we’re already grappling with the adverse effects of corporate control over our food supply – think shortages and soaring prices. Here’s what worries me the most:

  1. Unfair Burden on Family Farms: The costs of electronic tags, readers, and software, not to mention the frequent tech updates, will be a heavy load for independent livestock producers and taxpayers. Corporate operations, on the other hand, get a pass with group IDs for their animals, putting small and mid-sized producers at a huge disadvantage.
  2. No Real Food Safety Benefit: The tracking ends at slaughter, and most food safety issues arise from processing, not farming. This proposal shifts the focus away from where the real problems lie – the massive processing plants.
  3. Privacy and Corporate Control: There are serious privacy concerns for farmers, and this system could give even more control to the big packers, possibly leading to discrimination against farmers based on the data collected.

As homesteaders, we value independence, sustainability, and fairness in our food systems. Programs like this mandatory electronic ID threaten these values and our livelihoods. It’s crucial that we stay informed and make our voices heard.

I encourage you to learn more, form your own opinions, and participate in this important discussion. Call your Congressman today. Remember, our choices and actions today shape the future of farming and food in our country.

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