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Premise Registry

It seems the cases of mad cow disease, bird flu and who knows maybe even irritated rabbit, have sparked a whole new level of federal regulations. The feds have initiated a Premise Registry, where they want information allowing them to trace any animal back to every farm, ranch, fair, or sale barn it may have had contact with. The “voluntary” plan is to register your ranch and farm, not just brand and/or keep records on your animals. In Colorado you are already assumed guilty until proven innocent where livestock is concerned. With laws dating back to the outlaw cattle rustling days of the Old West, Colorado and most western states already assume livestock owners/haulers are criminals until they prove ownership or legal possession of the animals.This registry could even pertain to your back yard if you are a 4-H’er raising rabbits or chickens. The Cooperative Extension Office at Colorado State University has decided after October 2007, 4-H and FFA animal entries will only be allowed to compete if the premises where the animals are raised are in the Registry. So much for voluntary.At some point we have to be OK with knowing the government can not keep us safe from every possible wrong. Some things are personal responsibility issues like wearing seat belts and obeying traffic signals. It is the things beyond our control that people sometimes want the government to protect them from. But wanting to be protected and expecting government to do it are separate issues.Take the recent tainted hamburger incident that hit Wal-Mart and Safeway. It is in the best interest of the retailer to sell nothing but “safe” products. Given what this one incident has cost these two supermarket chains in lost sales you can bet they are doing everything possible to insure this is not repeated. I wouldn’t want to be the supplier explaining to Wal-Mart and Safeway that one in a million odds of this happening again was acceptable. Twice as many federal inspectors would still only be able to sample a small portion of the millions of pounds of food shipped each day. There is only so much government can protect you from and even less that a reasonable level of government should protect you from.For the commercial livestock operations it is predicted the regulation creating the Premise Registry will not be needed within three to four years because market forces will dictate the need to have your premises registered. Since market forces are going to take care of the “problem,” let market forces run its course. If the large retailers and packing plants insist on buying from only premises that are registered that is a market forces solution.The Hisey boys may not have had cattle at the 4-H fair if our parents’ farm had been required to have been part of the “Registry”. Not having a 4-H’er in the house or owning a farm or ranch, it is easy for me to talk tough and say it wouldn’t happen now either, but I recognize the answer may be different if I had a 12-year-old with her third lamb ready for show. Whatever the case, using programs as good as 4-H and FFA is unfair leverage to implement a “voluntary” program.If you’d like to comment on the “Registry,” contact the Colorado State University extension office main number at 719-636-8920 and ask for Gary Hall, director. Although Gary was not part of the decision, he can relay the information to the state director. The CSU/4-H/FFA portion is a policy decision that can be reversed at anytime.

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