August 17, 2006

Smoke and Mirrors in Vermont

It looks so good in the paper and on TV: Steve Kerr, Agency of Agriculture Secretary, has put a hold on premises registration because of a sudden realization that information send to the USDA might not be kept confidential. Well, DUH!

But that is not what this is all about.

Let's look at the facts:

Steve Kerr is on record since before 1996 in strong favor of a full implementation of an animal tracking system.

Kerry Rood sits on the Animal Identification Committee for the NIAA.

Back in Feb. when the "memo" came out, the Agency listed their initiatives that included getting $214,000 from USDA to implement the full three prongs of NAIS. I like to imagine they were sitting around a big table kicking around ideas. The subject of how the farmers might take the program, someone says, "Those guys are so deep in manure that they won't know until we go knocking on doors telling them it's mandatory." And starting fining the crap out of those who won't comply.

In April the number of people who showed up in Montpelier to make their anti-NAIS comments was a surprise to the Agency. I remember Steve Kerr sitting in the hall outside of the chamber, stone faced, in the dark (as befitting his Dark Lord status).

The appropriations bill passed in May gave specific guidelines to the Agency with regard to holding educational outreach, which somehow morphed into public hearings, in each of Vermont's 14 counties. Their educational outreach is not that at all. It is the shabbiest attempt at propaganda, the State Vet and his cohorts have not been prepared to answer questions, it's just sad.

I think that the Agency plain old under estimated the intelligence of people. In other words, they were blind sided by the 30, 40, 50 or more people who turned out for the public hearings and totally unprepared for the backlash.

Being that elections are coming up and Steve Kerr's boss, Governor Douglas is up for re-election, they probably thought better of trying to ram NAIS down our throats until the legislature starts up again with the new members.

There is one thing that bothers me greatly right now. The Brattleboro Reformer had an article which said, in part:

“He (Kerr) said he wants to sever the link with the USDA, and create a separate Vermont database. At the end of the week the Agency of Agriculture will ask the USDA for a block of animal registration numbers so as not to mess up the countrywide standardized numbering system that ensures none are repeated, and speeds up the response time between states in the event of an outbreak.”

A block of animal registration numbers? I thought we were talking about "just premises registration".

See, smoke and mirrors.

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