We Are Official!

Yesterday’s mail delivery included an envelope from the State of Michigan Department of Agriculture. We are officially registered with a Premise ID for our goats. “What’s that mean,” you ask?

Well, the United States Department of Agriculture requires that if you have livestock, and it will ever leave your property, it must be properly identified so as to be traceable. Even on a small farm such as ours, these laws apply. While we have no intention of our girls leaving the property, there could be occasions when this might become necessary, such as when they are being bred, or if they required medical care that our vet could not provide on-site. The idea is that the government wants to be able to trace an animal to its place of origin in case of a disease outbreak. Obviously this is a more critical need in situations where animals are being moved around frequently, such as in meat-raising operations, or animals that are brought to auction. But, we want to be compliant with the laws on this matter, so there you go.

We will soon receive plastic ID tags that can be attached to the goats’ ears, but we would rather take the route of tattoo identification. While initially it may cause some pain or irritation during the application process, we think it will be easier on them in the long run, in that they don’t have a huge hunk of plastic begging to get caught on something and tear through their cute little ears. 🙁 So, we’ll be procuring one of these tattoo kits in the near future. The little ladies will get our premises ID in one ear, and their individual ID in the other. Gidget, being a LaMancha, doesn’t have enough ear to tattoo – so hers will go around the perimeter of her tail. I’m not really looking forward to doing this, but I still feel better about the tattoos than the tags.

I have mixed personal feelings about the entire USDA/APHIS traceability program. Ideally, I’d like to live in a world where everyone takes responsibility for their actions, we all lived in a more sustainable manner, and did not need the government to tell us to behave. That would mean there simply wouldn’t be any huge factory farms where problems with disease would become uncontrolled and widespread. That’s certainly the way we are trying to live here on Serenity Acres, step by step. But the reality is that there are factory farms, animals do get moved around a lot, their health and well-being is not a priority for most of those farms, disease is common, and so our national food supply needs to have traceability. This is a situation where my ideals and reality have clashed, and so, I have chosen to comply because I do believe in being responsible, and this is how the government currently defines responsibility in regard to keeping livestock..

Of course, I’d also love to see more responsibility exercised on the part of the government in terms of who they put in charge of the USDA and FDA, and that does not include the appointees who are coming from the very industries which they are being charged with regulating, and if warranted, holding companies accountable for violating those regulations. If you’d like to learn more about this subject, I personally recommend the documentary Food, Inc. It’s really eye-opening, and has changed the way we look at things.

Well, that’s enough political ranting out of me, for now, anyway! I’m off to water some seedlings! 🙂

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