In her op-ed she explains why a federally mandated identification system would be devastating for her family’s farm: “These ID chips are estimated to cost $1.50 to $3 each, depending on the quantity purchased. A rudimentary machine to read the tags may be $100 to $200. It is expected that most reporting would have to be done online (requiring monthly Internet fees), then there would be the fee for the database subscription; together that would cost about $500 to $1,000 (conservatively) per year per premise. I estimate the combined cost for our farm at $10,000 annually — that’s 10 percent of our gross receipts.”
The same would be true on my family’s farm and I shudder to think of all the time and headache the identification system would represent to us. Not only would it be a cumbersome costly issue for small farmer’s it would be an almost non issue for mega farms and feedlots because they can catalog thousands of animals as only one unit. The horrible irony of the whole system is that it would give factory feedlots another advantage over small meat producers. Foreign buyers might object to the fact that “downer” cows might be used for exported beef but they also manner in which we produce our meat and what we feed them. Foreign buyers are as suspicious of big beef producers as we are. It is not an identification system that we need it is a new system.
I sympathize greatly with family run cow and calf operations that have been devastated by a sharp decrease in beef exports but an identification system would only exacerbate their plight. It would only give big agribusiness and feedlots the upper hand. It would make small producers like my family waste money and time when the way we raise our animals—on pasture—in a manner that is safe. The beef industry has been successful in pitting small ranchers against the sustainable movement. I feel that there needs to be more cooperation between grass-fed producers and traditional family ranchers that are trying to hang on. I think our interests are shared.
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