January 11, 2008

Five Minutes with Chuck Jolley

Jolley: Five Minutes With Sharon Zecchinelli & Doreen Hannes

Click here to read the full story.

I wrapped up 2007 with a series of interviews with people who are backing NAIS. It was an interesting and well-read series – even if I do say so – that explained in detail all the reasons that make animal identification a good idea. Sharon Zecchinelli contacted me, though, and demanded that the scales be balanced. “There are reasons it is not a good idea,” she said.

Here is the salient point: NAIS is a controversial subject, a coin with at least two sides. On close examination, we might even have to count the edge of the coin and call it a three-sided argument.

There are contingencies of small farmers and hobbyists who don’t like the idea. Not one bit. They see it as an unnecessary intrusion on their rights as private citizens - as a money grab by big business at the expense of the little guy - maybe even creeping socialism. One person harrumphed about the insanity of trying to ear tag chickens – she was stretching a point to make her point, of course.

But not to be tagged myself (as a slanted journalist, not an NAIS chicken), I invited Zecchinelli to stand in for the anti-NAIS groups and speak her piece. She agreed and invited her friend, Doreen Hannes, to participate. Their answers were impassioned, detailing the reasoning behind their position. Read on. It’s interesting stuff, whether you’re for it or ‘agin it’

Q: Sharon, let's establish your credentials, first. You're a retired chef who lives in Vermont with your husband, 'a flock of hens, the occasional freezer lamb or pig, horse and two dogs.' You're also an outspoken critic of NAIS. Other than the proud owner of a small farmstead in God's favorite part of the country, what qualifies you to join in the national debate on NAIS?

Sharon: In as much as the USDA calls me a stakeholder and has said my animals are a part of the National Herd, that should qualify me to join in the national debate. I do believe my voice and the voices of all small/private farmers, homesteaders, hobbyists and casual horse owners should be heard, so thank you Chuck, for this opportunity. I speak for thousands of others who are opposed to the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

My husband and I moved to Vermont in 2001 with the idea that we would raise animals for our own use and consumption. We eventually made the choice to grow meat animals because we wanted to stay out of the industrialized agriculture system. In these days there is no guarantee of clean food, certainly not like it used to be.

The main thing, though, that qualifies me to join the national debate is that I have read every document, press release and all the Federal Register documents that USDA has issued with regard to NAIS. I even attended, at my own expense, NIAA's ID Expo in 2006 to learn firsthand about the program. It was there that Dr. John Weimers told me personally that he would drive every back road to find every backyard flock and tag each chicken. It was also there that Indiana's State Vet Dr. Jennifer Greiner said to me she couldn't sleep at night thinking I would be eating diseased meat, that being my own sheep.

Q. Doreen, tell me about your background and what are your qualifications to enter this fracas?

Doreen: We own a homestead in South Central Missouri, and raise livestock for our own pleasure and consumption as well as for sale in the open market. We began to build up a dairy goat show herd and raise calves, and pigs on the extra milk, and then the ugly specter of NAIS reared up and stopped the dream of a family venture into quality show stock cold in its tracks. Because our faith will not allow us to take this type of mark in order to be able to buy or sell, we cannot and will not engage in NAIS in any way shape or form.

One thing that helps qualify me to join the national debate is that I have actually read the documents… from the international SPS and TBT and OIE guidelines and discussion drafts down to all of the USDA docs; both the PR firm releases and Federal Register documents as well as the definitions of the terms used in the documents, to be sure that I understand what is being said.

Click here to read the rest of the story.


  1. I honestly do not know how you can draw on so much information extemporaneously. Thank you.

    Two-three years ago when Diane and I could possibly have made a difference in this NAIS battle we were fighting breast cancer. Now that Diane is back the battle is almost lost with NAIS.

    I believe we need some major media events such as picket signs and protesters at the capitol to garner the national attention that this issue needs. It worked for PETA why should it not work for us?

    NAIS will be the second nail in our coffin and will put us out of business!! The first nail was stopping the horse processing plants. We never have and never would send one of our horses to the slaughter or to auction, however there has been enough ripple down effect to make our markets all but dry up. And I know you are already too aware of the affect NAIS will have across the board on small farms.

    The farm bill has passed the Senate at the end of 2007 and is now in the House. If NAIS cannot be stopped in the House then all is lost.

    Tom and Diane Jones

  2. Anonymous10:02 AM

    Although I have never owned a livestock animal in my life I have contacted the HSUS and Farm Animal Rescue Sanctuary Groups/Orgs about NAIS and the impact it will have on animals they protect.

    My suggestion is a massive rally/protest be organized where Americans all across the country who oppose NAIS unite and descend on Washington D.C. bringing this matter to the forefront and media

  3. Tom, not hardly extemporaneous info. I've been working it for 3 years. Things are happening faster now. Need to act.

    To Anonymous: Right, we certainly need to. Are you willing to head it up? HSUS doesn't care about NAIS, my friend, being as they are funded by the generosity of multinational conglomerates and behind the scenes NGOs.


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