All Maine Matters

May 2006



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Satire on Animal ID
by Walter Jeffries

Based on reading the USDA’s draft proposal for the National Animal Identification System some people are wondering how the USDA is going to tag all the wild animals that fall within the working species groups that must be tracked. The USDA says we don’t have to tag the wild animals. That is good to know...

It is the year 2009, February 22nd, the birthday of General George Washington. Today it is a bit windy and the cold is biting here on the eastern slope of Sugar Mountain in northern Vermont. The USDA shows up at my doorstep demanding to know why I have not voluntarily enrolled in their National Animal Identification System...

USDA Agent dressed all in black: Why haven’t you registered your farm and livestock for NAIS yet?

ME: What farm? I’m just a humble wood cutter.

AGENT: Don’t give me that. I see all those pigs and sheep in the field!

ME: Oh, those are just wild animals. Aren’t they pretty!

AGENT: You mean you don’t feed them?

ME: Sure I do. Just like feeding the song birds. Such fun!

AGENT: But don’t you sell them?
ME: Sure, want to buy a pig? I can probably catch you one if you like. Wild pastured pigs are the best. High in Omega-3 fatty acids, low in those artery clogging Omega-6’s. Frankly, you look like you could cut back on those bad acids a bit. You’re getting red in the face. Or is it the wind? Better check your blood pressure, mister.

AGENT: There, you admit it, you feed them, you sell them, you’re farming them!

ME: What?!? No way. They are just running around wild out there in the field. Just because I happen to be able to catch you a pig doesn’t mean anything. I could pick you a dandelion next summer but that does not mean I farm dandelions. I could catch you a chickadee but that is still just a wild bird.

AGENT: Oh, so I can just take one?

ME: Nope, they’re on my land and you would be trespassing. See those No Hunting - No Trespassing signs?


ME: See those very big dogs?

AGENT: Oh, my... Do they bite?
Kita: grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

ME: They haven’t bitten anyone today. But I would not move suddenly if I were you.

AGENT: Ah. Yes. I see... Well you have fences to keep the animals in.

ME: Yes... and your point?

AGENT: So that proves you are farming. You’ve got fences.

ME: I thought we were talking about pigs and sheep. Now you say I am farming fences? Are you really asking if I grow fences? I didn’t realize the government wanted to start tracking fences. Mine pretty much stay right where they are...

AGENT: No! No! You have fences to keep your livestock confined!

ME: I have fences but so does my neighbor and they have no animals at all. Are they farming too? Frankly, fences do not a farmer make. In fact, some places I don’t even have fences. Also, there are deer, mice, moose, bear and other wild animals out there besides the wild pigs and wild sheep. Are you going to accuse me of farming bears and coyotes just because there are bears out there shitting in the woods and I have fences? That is royally funny!

AGENT: You have to ID your animals!

ME: Really? You see that 900 lb. boar over there...

AGENT: Which one is the boar?

ME: The one with the balls. The one with the really big tusks who is pawing the ground. The one that is eyeing you...

AGENT: Yes...

ME: You go stick a tag in him. But, I suggest you first check that your life insurance premiums are paid up... Health insurance too because he might not kill you. He might just rip off your arm.

AGENT: Is he really wild?

ME: Yep. Those are wild pastured Yorkshire pigs. Beautiful animals.

AGENT: Hmm... He doesn’t look too friendly... Maybe these really are just wild animals... Tell you what - I’ll just mark you down as a vegetable farm.

ME: Do I have to tag my carrots?

AGENT: No, not yet.

ME: Okay.

Note: I made that all up. The USDA has not yet said we don’t have to tag wild animals. -WJ

PS. This ones for you, Steve!

Walter Jeffries lives in Sugar Mountain Farm in Virginia and maintains a website on the subject of the National Animal Identification system. His website can be found at

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