Wendell Berry —longtime small farm activist, cultural critic, poet, essayist, novelist, and iconic social revolutionary—says he will go to prison if the NAIS law passes. NAIS, the National Animal Identification System, is currently in its “listening session” stage among groups of small farmers in the US. And suffice it to say, the law is not going over well. It basically would mean tagging or branding every single animal on every single farm…no matter the size. That means my teensy homestead/farm will become a governmentally controlled, bureaucratic nightmare, and “freedom” in the very basest sense of the word—being able to grow one’s own food—will be eradicated from reality for good.
It’s a brave new world. But Wendell Berry is on the front lines of this war. He says: Take me to jail! If the NAIS law passes, he’s prepared to go behind bars in solidarity with young folks trying to make sense of this world self sufficiently. And right he would be.
The need to trace animals was made by the confined animal industry—which are, essentially, disease breeding operations. The health issue was invented right there. The remedy is to put animals back on pasture, where they belong. The USDA is scapegoating the small producers to distract attention from the real cause of the trouble. Presumably these animal factories are, in a too familiar phrase, “too big to fail.” […]
I understand the principles of civil disobedience, from Henry Thoreau to Martin Luther King. And I’m willing to go to jail to defend the young people who, I hope, will still have a possibility of becoming farmers on a small scale in this supposedly free country.
Read Wendell Berry’s full testimony here, from FoodRenegade.