An Open Letter to the NAIS Opposition Community
P.O. Box 501
Canton, New York 13617
P.O. Box 501
Canton, New York 13617
Does a Secret Pro-Corporate Agenda Intend to Co-opt the Anti-NAIS Movement?
Who Are the Real "Leaders" Behind Liberty Ark/FARFA?
Who Are the Real "Leaders" Behind Liberty Ark/FARFA?
A Sad Story of Concealed Interests; but With a Hopeful Ending
Many of us who are most strongly opposed to NAIS have noticed that Liberty Ark/FARFA and their de facto leaders, Henry Lamb, Judith McGeary, and Karin Bergener, have taken every opportunity: (1) to promote the type of "voluntary" system specified in the NAIS User Guide, which, as we know too well, inevitably will lead to a mandatory system; and (2) to quiet and blunt the NAIS opposition by touting the supposed "importance" of insignificant minor "victories" against NAIS, many of which are not "victories" at all, but just steps that bring us closer to NAIS.
Most in the antiNAIS community probably do not understand the concealed connections and actions of the main people working on behalf of Liberty Ark/FARFA. Karin Bergener of Liberty Ark works for a company called SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation). SAIC is a prominent federal government contractor, the developer of the national DNA database and the gun-purchase background-check database. As described on its website, www.saic.com, SAIC also works in the areas of data-mining and biometric identification. SAIC has been a member of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), presumably because its product lines could be applied to animal identification. As we well know, NIAA has been the driving force behind the development and promotion of a fully mandatory NAIS. Henry Lamb is very much involved in Liberty Ark, but his name appears nowhere on their Steering Committee. In the past, Henry Lamb's various organizations have been funded and supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation. ( www.motherjones.com/news
All this is not to say that these people may not "oppose" NAIS on some level and for some motives; the question is the degree of their opposition, and the authenticity of their motives. NAIS is the very model of how an unresponsive Executive Branch agency can cooperate with a globalist industrial agriculture and a technocratic corporate elite to force an undesired program upon an unwilling populace. So ask yourself whether people aligned with those selfsame industrial/corporate interests are likely to be legitimate opponents of NAIS.
McGeary Supports "Voluntary" Government-Imposed NAIS
Judith McGeary of FARFA and Liberty Ark has made frequent on-the-record statements in support of a "voluntary" government-run NAIS. She testified on September 6, 2006 before the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) that FARFA does not oppose a "voluntary" NAIS program. (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us
Of course, we in the NAIS opposition community know all too well from the USDA's User Guide for NAIS, and from the actions of various states in forcing farmers into NAIS without their knowledge or consent in the guise of a "voluntary" program, that a "voluntary" NAIS cannot be tolerated, and is not consistent with the positions of groups completely opposed to NAIS, such as the Northeast Organic Farming Association – Massachusetts, Rural Vermont, or the Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association.
McGeary and the Massachusetts Coordinator of Liberty Ark Worked Diligently to Weaken State Legislation
In Massachusetts, Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts (NOFA/Mass) antiNAIS activists Ben Grosscup and Jack Kittredge were just on the verge of approaching their legislators with antiNAIS legislation to bar completely the Massachusetts premises ID program and allow Massachusetts farmers who had been unjustly placed in premises ID to get their information removed from the database. At this crucial moment, without the knowledge of Jack and Ben, Liberty Ark's Massachusetts State Coordinator, Pat Stewart, gave legislators a bill that would have established a "voluntary" state-run NAIS. (The truly harmful nature of such legislation is evident from the fact that Massachusetts presently has NO statutory authorization for any state-level NAIS.) When faced with Stewart's submission, the legislators, at that point unfamiliar with all the nuances of the NAIS fight, were on the verge of accepting this Liberty Ark pro-voluntary NAIS bill for filing. Fortunately, Ben and Jack really stepped up to the plate for all of us, fought hard to get their stop-NAIS bill filed instead, and thought they had this struggle behind them. But then Judith McGeary of FARFA/Liberty Ark contacted Ben and Jack repeatedly, insisting that they accept at least some part of the pro-voluntary NAIS Liberty Ark legislation. (One of McGeary's objectives was to get the word "sustainable" removed from the bill's title; Lamb and his ilk are outspoken enemies of "sustainability," claiming that the concept is some nefarious plot hatched by "environmentalists.")
Ben and Jack solidly stood their ground and rejected any weakening of the NOFA/Mass bill and made sure their legislators in both chambers would file the NOFA/Mass strong antiNAIS bill. Then Pat Stewart of Liberty Ark, again without telling Ben and Jack, approached a Senate aide with what she claimed was a "compromise" bill. (Remember, Ben and Jack had held their ground and refused to weaken the NOFA/Mass bill, so there never was any "compromise" version of a bill.) In the confusion of the last-minute deadline for filing bills, Stewart somehow got the weak Liberty Ark bill filed. Now NOFA/Mass had to work doubly hard to clean up the confusion and make sure the strong NOFA/Mass bill had been filed properly in both houses of the legislature.
In light of these events, one must ask, why would Judith McGeary and Pat Stewart deliberately work to introduce pro-voluntary NAIS legislation in Massachusetts (a state with NO statutory authority for any version of NAIS), and why would they be so insistent on promoting the weakened legislation, that they would use less-than-open tactics to get it filed?
Henry Lamb and the Early History of Liberty Ark
In early March of 2006, Henry Lamb called me and said that he wanted to sponsor and fund a national group to oppose NAIS. He wanted me to be the leader of this group. He asked me for the names of any people I thought might be suitable to be members of a steering committee for such a group; I suggested Judith McGeary and Karin Bergener, each of whom had independently contacted me and expressed their interest in opposing NAIS. I gave Lamb, Bergener, and McGeary one another's contact information and Lamb began organizing a series of conference calls for the group to discuss forming the organization that came to be called Liberty Ark.
My first contact with Lamb had taken place a couple of months earlier, when he had asked me if he could reprint one of my early antiNAIS articles in his "Ecologic" magazine. I had never heard of Lamb and, assuming that this was some small ecology publication, I gave him permission for the reprint. Now, in the larger context of the possible formation of Liberty Ark, I was motivated to look more deeply into Lamb's publications and other activities. It turned out that Lamb's magazine is in fact not an ecology publication at all, but rather, the opposite – a virulent anti-environmental publication. Lamb himself is best known as a voice for the corporate interests of polluting industries, working to defeat initiatives that would promote clean and livable rural areas for the good of the average people.
As Bergener, McGeary, Lamb, and I continued to discuss the formation of Liberty Ark, Lamb added his son to the group. Meanwhile, I was also taking part in separate conversations among Bergener, McGeary, and myself, in which I was expressing growing misgivings about Lamb's motives for forming the group in general, and in particular, my fear that Lamb would use Liberty Ark to co-opt the antiNAIS movement into nothing more than an appendage of the pro-corporate, anti-environmental agenda. However, Bergener and McGeary insisted that Lamb's backing and funding were necessary to the group.
Just as the Liberty Ark website was about to be launched, Lamb told us in a conference call that he was not going to permit his name to be used publicly on the Liberty Ark website as one of the members of the steering committee (albeit he was going to continue to be the funding behind the organization). After that call, I resigned from the Liberty Ark steering committee and severed ties with the group, because I was not willing to participate in any venture that was not revealing the identities of all the persons behind it.
Henry Lamb's sponsorship of Liberty Ark is confirmed in public documents. If you do a "who is" look-up on www.register.com for libertyark.net , you will find that the Liberty Ark website is owned by a Tennessee company called Earth Work, Inc. In turn, if you search the Tennessee Secretary of State's corporate records for Earth Work, Inc., you will find that it is a for-profit corporation and that the registered agent for Earth Work, Inc. is Henry Lamb, 175 Shepard Cemetery Lane, Hollow Rock, Tennessee. (In case these records may be changed in the future to obscure the relationship, alternate sources of these pages are being maintained.)
The Talent/Emerson Bill and the Misleading of Missourians
During last fall's Congressional elections, the Senate seat in Missouri was very closely contested, with former Republican Senator Jim Talent ultimately losing to Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill by a thin margin. Missouri is a hotbed of opposition to NAIS and NAIS was definitely an issue in the Senate race. McCaskill, whose family business was a local feed mill and who therefore had ties to local and small-scale agriculture, consistently opposed NAIS from the beginning of her campaign. Talent, on the other hand, had developed ties to corporate and industrial agriculture during his incumbency and had been primarily a supporter of NAIS before the election. However, as the election season progressed, Talent began to take an ostensible position against NAIS. In early September, Talent suddenly introduced in the Senate legislation that would have given the green light to the USDA's establishment of a "voluntary" federal NAIS (remember, there has never been, and there is not to this day, any federal statute that actually authorizes ANY element or form of NAIS). Also, Talent's NAIS legislation would have been a frontal assault on the citizens' right to know, because it would have prevented federal freedom-of-information disclosure to citizens of information related to NAIS and also, in an outrageous assault on the autonomy of state freedom of information laws, would have prohibited states from allowing disclosure of state information under their own state laws. (109th Congress, S. 3862; companion House bill introduced by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, H.R. 6042.)
Thus, it appeared that the Talent NAIS legislation was deliberately designed to offer false appeasement to potential Missouri antiNAIS voters, while actually facilitating the USDA's development of NAIS. In sum, the Talent bill was pro-NAIS, and was recognized as such by many of Liberty Ark's own state coordinators, by the antiNAIS organization Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (VICFA, www.vicfa.net) and their legislative counsel, and by me, among many others. Nonetheless, Liberty Ark insisted upon promoting the bill with press releases and an action alert urging their followers to contact legislators in support of the bill. Not surprisingly (now that you know Lamb founded and funds Liberty Ark), Henry Lamb "independently" promoted the Talent bill and for good measure threw in fulsome praise for Liberty Ark (without, of course, ever revealing that he is the force that created and maintains Liberty Ark). (http://www.worldnetdaily.com
Liberty Ark, Bergener, and McGeary deliberately supported the Talent bill even though they were well aware of the terrible consequences if the bill should pass (thankfully, it didn't) – namely, the bill's potential to create the first-ever federal statutory authority for NAIS and its insults to citizens' rights to government information. Because Bergener and McGeary insisted on supporting the Talent bill against all objections, four of Liberty Ark's strongest state coordinators resigned over this incident. (Nonetheless, Liberty Ark, in its obsession with creating a misleading impression of its own influence – an obsession discussed in greater detail below – to this day has failed to remove the names of ex-supporters from its website.)
Liberty Ark Lures NAIS Opponents into Slumber with the False Comfort of "Opt Outs"
On January 29, 2007, Liberty Ark's Karin Bergener and Judith McGeary issued a "press release" loudly trumpeting: "In a dramatic reversal of policy, the USDA has decided to provide an 'OPT OUT' procedure for people whose premises have been registered" in NAIS. (On precisely the same date, Henry Lamb posted an article on his website about this "dramatic" development, almost identical in wording to the Liberty Ark "press release.") The Liberty Ark "press release" went on to suggest that Liberty Ark had somehow discovered or even obtained this supposed boon through a telephone call to the USDA on January 26, 2007.
The truth is that NOFA/Mass, not Liberty Ark, was the first organization to secure a possibility of "opt outs." NOFA/Mass accomplished this in the summer of 2006, six months prior to Bergener and McGeary's announcement of a "dramatic reversal." Moreover, in New York State, apparently as a result of complaints from individual farmers, the state began to offer "opt outs" during the fall of 2006 for animal owners who had been placed in the premises ID program through data-mining, without their prior knowledge or consent. Perhaps most importantly, as NOFA/Mass itself has always indicated, an "opt out" procedure, far from any "dramatic reversal," is really a very poor remedy of too-little and too-late, since the animal owner's information should never have been submitted to USDA/APHIS in the first place, and since the states using data-mining to secure "false voluntary" premises IDs did not offer to discontinue the data-mining.
This "opt out" incident is characteristic of two traits common to Liberty Ark, Lamb, McGeary, and Bergener. First, they continually overstate the importance of their own accomplishments and fail to accord credit to the actual accomplishments of other groups and people. (Consistent with Lamb's sponsorship of the group, they seem especially eager to omit mention of the accomplishments of such pro-environmental groups as NOFA/Mass.) Second, they invariably endorse and support weak compromises and half-measures such as accepting "voluntary" government-run NAIS or supposed "opt outs" for people who should never have been forced into NAIS in the first place. This behavior is affirmatively harmful to the legitimate movement against NAIS. It lulls into submission those opponents of NAIS who incorrectly may believe that part of the problem has been "solved" by a misleadingly-named "voluntary" program or by "opt outs." Further, it has the potential to defeat the antiNAIS movement altogether. Consider what would happen if Liberty Ark/Lamb/McGeary/Bergener concentrated a large degree of power in their own hands by overstating their own "accomplishments" and never acknowledging the real accomplishments of others (particularly the real accomplishments of pro-environmental, sustainable farming groups). In that scenario, Liberty Ark/Lamb/McGeary/Bergener might well place themselves in the position of appearing to have the power to agree to some defeatist "compromise." In other words, what if Liberty Ark/Lamb/McGeary/Bergener act in ways that nullify the gains of those truly opposed to NAIS, by insinuating themselves into a position of influence with bureaucrats, legislators, and industrial farming interests such as Farm Bureau, and then obtaining less-than-desirable "concessions" or legislation to further their own agenda, despite the honest opposition of their "supporters?" Surely, we have not all labored tirelessly against NAIS just to have some unrepresentative, self-appointed group accept a result far short of what we really want – the complete eradication of any government NAIS program.
The Hopeful Ending: A Growing and Diverse NAIS Opposition Can Sustain the Movement's Truth
Many readers will be disheartened to learn of the tactics employed by Liberty Ark, FARFA, Lamb, McGeary, and Bergener. But the revelation of these tactics will allow true NAIS opponents to combat the negative effects of these groups and their "leaders." Fortunately, at just the time when more positive direction is needed by the antiNAIS movement, many more groups are embracing the true NAIS opposition message or are moving toward a more effective opposition. For example, R-CALF, previously only a mild and partial NAIS opponent, soon may be forced by a member referendum to take a stance of complete opposition. Many other livestock and farming groups on the local, state, or even national levels have taken up the antiNAIS cause in recent months. Sustainable and small-farming advocacy groups organized at the state and local levels are beginning to work actively against NAIS.
Those who have been most effective and successful in fighting any form of NAIS have done so by adhering to the true interests of their local supporters, and becoming very active in educating both the public and their government representatives about the dangers of any government-run animal identification system. This is truly a grassroots movement, and dedicated individuals and authentic local groups are responsible for the progress that has been made in the fight. There are many well-informed and passionate people diligently fighting against NAIS. The fight against NAIS offers the first legitimate opportunity in years, perhaps decades, to turn back the tide of corporate globalism and the earth-destroying excesses of industrial technology, and restore the ethical and moral values upon which local, human-scale, peaceful, generous communities can be built.
Don't squander the opportunity. Join with your friends, family, and neighbors, reject greed and blind self-interest, despise the technocrats' divorce from Nature, take back the Earth, restore the Creation as the cradle of life.