By Karen Nowak, Pond Ridge Farm Hackney Horses, Brookfield, NY
Since it is apparent that some of you think our government agencies are above board, let me share a story of my recent experience.
I have been heavily involved with the anti-NAIS movement since March of 2005. I have done literally thousands of hours of research – including obtaining hundreds of pages of government documents via the Freedom of Information Act. I researched both sides of this issue as objectively as I could, including interviewing people who are experts in the field of RFID (radio frequency ID) and computer technology. The more I researched, the more I became adamantly opposed to this system. I recognized the danger in the loss of our constitutional rights and I recognized the very real danger to future marketing efforts of rare breeds like ours.
I wrote several articles on the subject of NAIS and horses, which have been published in a variety of places. I have also written several educational flyers, brochures and a power point presentation for seminars/meetings on this subject for the anti-NAIS movement. My power point presentation has been used by groups all across the USA at NAIS informational meetings.
And so, my name became *known* to the USDA and my State Dept of Agriculture. And here is where you will see just how far they will go to prevent the ‘other side’ from being heard…
I purchased vendor space at a recent Horse Expo in my state. The purpose (clearly spelled out to the expo organizers) was three fold: to promote the Hackney Horse, to market my hay (income) and to provide information for horse owners on NAIS. All was fine until my State Dept of Agriculture found out that I would be there as they had purchased vendor space as well. They succeeded in having me banned from the expo because I would be a ‘negative influence’!
After a week of deliberation and consultation with 3 attorneys (who are also anti-NAIS activists), the decision was made to contact the American Civil Liberties Union. I never had much use for the ACLU before but their purpose IS to protect our constitutional right and this was clearly a violation of my first amendment right to freedom of speech. Think about it, political candidates are allowed to tell their side of any issue so why should I not be allowed to tell mine? The ACLU took my case – the first one in the USA involving NAIS – and went after my State Dept of Ag.
My State Dept of Ag vehemently denied any wrongdoing. They turfed it all on the shoulders of the expo organizers, claiming that they simply asked that they be moved to another location in the expo away from me.
Technically it should have stopped there, as the ACLU does not normally go after a private corporation in matters like this. But the ACLU believed the whole story ‘stunk of censorship’ and did not buy the State Dept of Ag’s excuse. They then had conversations with the expo organizers and a very interesting story emerged in where even names were named from my State Dept of Ag. They informed the expo organizers that I had been at a huge Farm Expo last August (Untrue as I working). They claimed that I harassed people, was rude and obnoxious and had even caused a riot to break out over NAIS! They also stated that they were ‘in fear of being on the same grounds’ as me for fear that I would cause another riot. Of course the expo organizers made the decision to ban me. Who wouldn’t after hearing such a story from a govt agency? My first reaction was to laugh over this absolutely ridiculous ‘story’ then I really got angry. I was NOT at said Farm Expo but I did know people who attended. NO riot broke out!
My State Dept of Ag also provided the expo organizers with numerous e-mails that I had written about NAIS – going back an entire year. I saw these e-mails from our State Dept of Ag with my own eyes. It was then that I realized they are actually tracking me on the internet.
To make a long story short, the expo organizers were convinced by the ACLU that it was in their best interest to allow me back in.
The expo was last weekend. The first day I was literally watched like a hawk by the expo organizers. By the end of the first day, the show manager realized that they had been ‘had’ by our State Dept of Ag. They observed for themselves that ALL I did was provide printed material to those who wished to take it and I answered many, many questions – particularly from people who had been to our State Dept of Ag’s Animal ID booth first. The end result was that we were invited back next year!
It was quite interesting to listen to ‘the story’ people were told at the Animal ID booth. Some outright lies and a whole lot of omission of information to coerce people into registering their premises. I had printed out the NAIS pages from our State Dept of Ag’s website and had copies of their brochure, which turned out to be a smart move. People were horrified when they got to my booth and read for themselves what this program really entails. They were also shocked at the amount of money our state has received from the USDA to implement NAIS (I had a copy of that official govt document as well). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots once you start following the money trail.
I share this story to prove a point. First and foremost, this is the USA, not a communist country! We, as citizens have a right under the constitution to express our opinion. Second, these govt agencies will stoop at nothing to push this program through! They will lie to your face and deliberately leave out information that you have a right to know. Third, I encourage everyone to research this program themselves BEFORE you agree to anything.
Once you register your premises, you are stuck. If they register your premises WITHOUT your permission, as many states are doing by using the coggins database, etc, you are stuck. They can force any regulation they want on you because you are now ‘in their program’. The USDA claims there is an ‘Opt-Out Procedure’. Be aware that you have to jump through hoops to be opted out and IF you succeed, your property CANNOT be removed from the federal database. They claim they can only list it as ‘inactive’. What would cause them to ‘activate’ it again is anyone’s guess because thus far, they have chosen to refuse to answer that question. So far, only ONE person in the USA has successfully ‘opted out’ and it took the action of a group of attorneys with threat of a lawsuit to accomplish it. Three personal friends of mine (all neighbors) are currently going through the ‘opt-out procedure’. NONE of them registered their premises voluntarily in this supposedly ‘Voluntary with a capital V’ program. It was done WITHOUT their knowledge or consent. The process has to be seen to be believed. It has been 2 months so far. They have filled out every form that has been sent to them but they have yet to receive notification that they have been reclassified as ‘inactive’.
Please people, research this program for yourself. – Karen Nowak, Pond Ridge Farm Hackney Horses, Brookfield, NY.
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