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Ranchers Have Beef With USDA Program To ID Cattle

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the chipping-in dept.

Privacy 376

Ponca City, We Love You writes "The NY Times reports that farmers and ranchers oppose a government program to identify livestock with microchip tags that would allow the computerized recording of livestock movements from birth to the slaughterhouse. Proponents of the USDA's National Animal Identification System say that computer records of cattle movements mean that when a cow is discovered with bovine tuberculosis or mad cow disease, its prior contacts can be swiftly traced. Ranchers say the extra cost of the electronic tags places an onerous burden on a teetering industry. Small groups of cattle are often rounded up in distant spots and herded into a truck by a single person who could not simultaneously wield the hand-held scanner needed to record individual animal identities. The ranchers also note that there is no Internet connection on many ranches for filing to a regional database. 'Lobbyists from corporate mega-agribusiness designed this program to destroy traditional small sustainable agriculture,' says Genell Pridgen, an owner of Rainbow Meadow Farms. The notion of centralized data banks, even for animals, has also set off alarms among libertarians who oppose NAIS. One group has issued a bumper sticker that reads, 'Tracking cattle now, tracking you soon.' 'They can't comprehend the vastness of a ranch like this,' says Jay Platt, the third-generation owner of a 22,000 acre New Mexico ranch. 'This plan is expensive, it's intrusive, and there's no need for it.'"

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A "teetering industry"? (2, Funny)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535351)

LOL

Re:A "teetering industry"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535391)

Well sure, if the cost of meat goes up just a few more cents a pound then every single person in the USA is going to instantly convert to a strict vegetarian diet. I would have thought that was obvious.

Re:A "teetering industry"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535459)

Well sure, if the cost of electricity goes up just a few more cents a watt then every single person in the USA is going to instantly convert to a strict carbon-free diet. I would have thought that was obvious.

Your statement is facetious. Mine is the basis for the ridiculous law congress just passed.

Re:A "teetering industry"? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535605)

Yep, just keep smoking that conservative crack The spiders will go away, they'll go away, yes, the sPIDERS will gO AWAY!!! GO AWAY!!!!! GOOOOOAAAAAAWWWWWAAAYYY!!!!

Re:A "teetering industry"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535757)

Umm, no it's not. What it does do is cause people to think about whether or not they need to drive somewhere, and yes it does work. I mean, I can't think of a more reasonable explanation for the correlation between price of gas and average fuel efficiency. It's the whole basis for the paradox of conservation. It's also an example of the tragedy of the commons, since nobody is being forced to pay for polluting the air, the results will end up with huge amounts of polution.

As for the article, ranchers are a serious part of many problems, the fact that they're fighting tooth and nail against the consumer getting the means to know where they're meat is coming from is a good reason to do it. If we can also do that for GMO crops we'll all be the better for it.

Markets don't work without transparency, if people are fine eating GMO fine, but they should be able to, but it shouldn't infringe on the right of other people to not eat it. I see no reason why beef is any different in that respect.

Re:A "teetering industry"? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535867)

Markets don't work without transparency, if people are fine eating GMO fine, but they should be able to, but it shouldn't infringe on the right of other people to not eat it. I see no reason why beef is any different in that respect.

You do have a right to know where your beef comes from every step of the way...if you're willing to pay for it. If enough people buy meat that has been tracked, all ranchers will track their cows so as to remain competitive. THAT is how markets work (see the bulk of dairy products with "No Growth Hormones" labels on them). Not via whatever legislation the lobby of the month has flashed in front of a Senator on the golf course.

Re:A "teetering industry"? (1)

Robin47 (1379745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535969)

Yeah, Like in cow tipping? :-)

Let it collapse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535377)

The blurb says their industry is teetering and this one new regulation would destroy them. I say let it go down. Regulate them into the dust.

(Full disclosure, I abhor the meat industry.)

Re:Let it collapse (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535405)

Perhaps you should move to a tyrannical government where they don't even act like they listen to the people and if your business gets hurt they don't care. Perhaps Iran or North Korea? Plus, if you don't like it you can choose not to support the meat industry its not like people are shoving steaks down your throat. If you want to be a vegetarian or vegan, fine, but you have no right to deprive people of their living just because you dislike it.

Re:Let it collapse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535903)

Plus, if you don't like it you can choose not to support the meat industry its not like people are shoving steaks down your throat.

That's not entirely true. The government, especially the USDA uses my tax dollars to subsidize meat production and consumption. I guess you'll just tell me to leave or something lame.

Re:Let it collapse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535429)

You can take my bacon when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

Re:Let it collapse (5, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535455)

You are an idiot who can't even RTFS. This regulation would hurt the small sustainable ranchers who are teetering on the edge of being able to compete, while benefiting the large-scale industry that you abhor.

Re:Let it collapse (2, Interesting)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535737)

> This regulation would hurt the small sustainable ranchers who are
> teetering on the edge of being able to compete, while benefiting
> the large-scale industry that you abhor.

So true! There's an unholy alliance between big business and big government; there's a list of examples in Timothy Carney's latest column [washingtonexaminer.com] . For more of the same, he's also the author of The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money [amazon.com] .

Re:Let it collapse (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535787)

(I'm a different AC.)

I don't want to go so far as to call you an idiot, but I'll note that "this is going to hurt the small sustainable ranchers while benefiting the large-scale industry" is a CLAIM made by those small ranchers, not necessarily a fact. It's in the summary, yes, but it shouldn't be treated as fact right away.

Re:Let it collapse (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535535)

FUCK YOU. I abhor your fucking vegetarians industry. Dumb fucks. Plants are living things too. Why stop there then? Nothing, and I mean nothing, not even religious zealots, piss me off more than vegetarians. EAT MOAR CHIKUN bitches. And before you mod this TROLL, read what I'm saying. Its true.

VenusFlytraps are remnant genes of sentient plants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535777)

I read in an article, that escapes me at the moments, that there were plants fossilized that proved they were in all regards sentient and a lot more active than VenusFlytraps. The reason they died-out was because back when the dinosaurs were around they were thought to be trampled from the constant foraging, and that it couldn't maintane a symbiotic relationship on the sides of constantly-groomed trees that it was attached onto.

Thank God that the Japanese have been drawing this plant for years in their manga, to remind us of what we missed all these thousands of years. I wouldn't mind having my ass stuffed by a pulsating root looking for the source of the tasty fertilizer.

Re:Let it collapse (2, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535547)

Just like testing all cows for MCD would also destroy the industry, because any positive would kill exports and greatly impact domestic consumption.

So we only test a small percentage of pre-selected cows and get no positive results.

Problem solved.

And since we know in advance that the cows won't test positive, there is no reason to tag them.

Re:Let it collapse (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535557)

That's fine, we abhor you too.

-The Meat Industry.

Re:Let it collapse (4, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535695)

I say let it go down. Regulate them into the dust. (Full disclosure, I abhor the meat industry.)

It's fair to have that opinion, but you do realize that a LARGE part of the economy is dependant on cattle. If you think the economy sucks now, let the "meat industry" (including dairy, fast food, grocery stores and numerous other) die.

Even if it all doesn't fall down like dominoes (and it would), you're talking about a lot of people losing their jobs, most of the physical area of the US falling into economic decay. Maybe you didn't mean to flamebait, but geez, what you're talking about is pretty terrible stuff in reality.

Re:Let it collapse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535859)

Hell yeah! Let's replace them with some nice camps where we can slaughter vegan scum.

Re:Let it collapse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535927)

You must be one of those vegan hippy fags. Please go and choke on a soy bean.

Sigh. (3, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535387)

Nothing ever changes. This is the exact argument that they made in the 1900's when the FDA was first trying to reduce the number of human body parts that made it into canned meat: "Waaaaaa, you're going to put us out of business! Waaaaaaaa, no one could ever collect this much information!"

I call BS. If I stole a cow from one of those giant farms, the damn rancher'd be able to identify it in a second, but the instant you want to track something for public safety reasons, "there is no way they could ever collect that information."

Re:Sigh. (3, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535395)

You're an idiot if you think all ranchers have "those giant farms."

Re:Sigh. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535529)

So if they have a little itty-bitty family farm, what's the problem?

My (step)grandfather had a mere 120 head of cattle: we could have scanned those in a few minutes every day, just by walking along behind the hay truck, and zapping every cow that walked near.

I am extremely suspicious of "just trust us" accounting, especially in cases of disease and tainted animal products. I feel no particular need to trust their honesty.

Re:Sigh. (3, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535579)

Did he work alone? Ever? I remember trying to single handedly round up cattle for transport, even to fairs, back when I was growing up. No way in hell I could get them in a wagon by myself, let alone scan them while trying to keep them loading on. Plus then of course you have to take into account the cost of the scanner, internet connectivity, consumables (tags), it IS a lot of administrative burden. A lot of farmers in our area have themselves, maybe one kid helping them, and that's it.

Re:Sigh. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535555)

You missed the point. The giant farms would be MORE difficult, small ranches this is trivial and not even that expensive.

Re:Sigh. (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535793)

You misread even the summary, with a quote from a small rancher who apparently would disagree strongly with your statement.

'Lobbyists from corporate mega-agribusiness designed this program to destroy traditional small sustainable agriculture,' says Genell Pridgen, an owner of Rainbow Meadow Farms.

Re:Sigh. (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535947)

It's moot anyhow. When the water wars start the small ranchers will be the first to go. Here's a handy equation to explain it:

Los Angeles > Your Dirt Farm

Re:Sigh. (3, Informative)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535905)

Actually, the giant farms would probably not be as difficult. Large farms have more people, many of whom probably do not work as much as the few people per small farm. They have economies of scale on larger farms, which means that if there is another administrative hurdle to cross, they already have a person on staff to deal with it, and it is probably their job. On a small farm, administration is time taken out of the other work time of the operational staff of the farm. Even a small amount of additional administration and regulation can turn into an issue.

For those of you who understand the concepts, this regulation basically represents a flat percentage of extra effort; in taxes, we call that a regressive tax. You must spend the same amount of time to tag a steer on a small farm as a large farn, but like the poor vs. rich in the tax scenario, the rich can absorb a flat percentage without being really hurt by it.

Now I am not saying that the tagging idea is impossible, but somehow you will have to account for the extra adminstrative time required out of people who already work from dawn to dusk and beyond every day just staying afloat. Their position is 100% valid, even if you think its "not all that expensive". Work is work, tags cost a unit price, and God help you if your report on so-and-so shipment was messed up, because it's all your fault when the government comes knocking to fine you.

A lot of people in the US get upset with mega-corporations, but they forget that massive regulation requires an investment of time from the regulated. That means that it becomes yet another reason that mega-corporations take over. They can absorb these costs. Their bottom line may be affected, but it's merely a percentage. On a small farn that same percentage might be a significant portion of whatever small profits that they eke out. Small farms are *not* efficient, anyone who understands economics should know that. They provide some advantages, but many of those advantages (like a free and hard working population who are landowners) are intangibles that no one really factors in.

I used to drive out to farms when I worked with my grandfather, who sold goods to farmers. Many people here would be shocked by what I saw in terms of the sacrifices that these people have to make to simply do what their families have been doing for centuries. These are people who don't need something else on their backs making their life even harder. Not if we don't want to see them or their children sell out to the agribusiness and move away.

People think that all of these programs are no-brainers because "of course we want to track every animal to prevent CJ disease", but take a look at who is doing that work before you call it a win. Some of you are effectively calling some of the hardest working people on Earth "lazy" or "greedy". The concept of people sitting in their ergonomic chairs and making those sorts of statements sickens me from the pure ignorance that it represents.

Re:Sigh. (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535427)

Nothing ever changes. This is the exact argument that they made in the 1900's when the FDA was first trying to reduce the number of human body parts that made it into canned meat: "Waaaaaa, you're going to put us out of business! Waaaaaaaa, no one could ever collect this much information!"

Lol, this is exactly what I was talking about; see my post right below yours. I've been sitting in on lectures on the Progressive Era for the last two weeks, and the fact that the large meatpacking companies supported the regulation was one of the more interesting tidbits I learned.

Re:Sigh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28536019)

And you'll note that there aren't a lot of small meat packing companies around any more.

Yet another mon

Re:Sigh. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535817)

Meanwhile, the small ranches, and single family farmhouses that have cattle for tax purposes will be forced to pony up the money for this technology at their farm. What, you only have a few head of cattle? Too bad... Unless you plan on never selling your cattle, EVER, you're going to have to join the club and I bet you hand over fist that expense is coming out of your pocket. The ROI on owning a few head (10) cattle is extremely small from an economic standpoint. Naturally the ROI increases as your numbers increase since you then have infrastructure for it.

And as far as disease is concerned? We've had, what, 1 cow test positive recently, READ 1, for BSE (Mad-Cow Disease to you non-Ag. people) in the U.S, out of ~90Million cattle. Your gonna tell me that implementing THIS technology is going to stop greedy individuals who like to cut corners and use cheap contaminated/BAD FEED? I don't think so.

There is a WHOLE other side to why the big ranches want this technology implemented, and it has nothing to do with tracking disease.

Re:Sigh. (5, Informative)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535891)

I call BS. If I stole a cow from one of those giant farms, the damn rancher'd be able to identify it in a second, but the instant you want to track something for public safety reasons, "there is no way they could ever collect that information."

I call BS on your BS. If we were talking about corporate feed lots it would be one thing, but a very significant percentage of the US beef herd is raised by independent cattle producers on open range in very sparsely populated country. It can take months to find all of your cattle to tag them in the first place, so it is very easy to "lose" cattle without noticing. In fact, the law in the ranching areas I am familiar with is that you only have rights to your free-range cattle if you can find and tag them within the first year after birth, after which they enter the public domain (first person to tag them owns them). It is not at all uncommon for me to find a rancher's untagged cattle in one of my canyons.

Beef ranching in the western US does not work the way you think it does. Much of the basic logistics of it have not changed much since the 19th century.

Agriculture always depends on VOLUME (0)

NRAdude (166969) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535943)

Having been lightly involved in much of this kind of American labor, I'll remind you that this is the base of the economy that determines standard of living no different than housing and water. People can go-without electricity, but when you mess with sources of food and water then that becomes just another root right next to Fuel and Oil. I've worked next to a slaughterhouse before and it takes alot of willpower to work a job like that; I'll stick with chicken-farming and vegetarianism like ol' Heinrich Himmler and Adolph Hitler. Food choice aside, there are Swat-teams led by rogue USDA informants breaking down doors to FAMILIES that don't slaughter their animals or such as a means of sustaining business but for the cause of distributing raw animal byproducts for the sake of nutritional therapies and such; these are the stories you aren't hearing about because it is in direct conflict with the FDA and large pharmaceutical companies that pump-up Insurance costs by doctors and psychiatrists frivolously throwing unnecessary procedures and experimental drugs onto children and elderly not for the sake of improving lives but because of kick-backs and population control. It was over in Chicago ILLINOIS that one therapist "Mike T. Witort" disclosed that pharmaceutical companies were sending scantily-clad representatives with unrelated bribes to ascribe the associated and consolidated clinics and HMO's to use their products. The same therapist disclosed that many of the representatives are mostly prostitutes that have nothing to do with medical if not the drugs they share with their clients before comitting to the task of prostitution. Free-roam animals in family-raised farms have never suffered the concentration-camp style of husbandry that all the government-approved alphabet corporations have "optimized" towards. If not a diet for plants, at-least help these animals live a more honest, comfortable, and longer life in a family's stable and pasure rather than the mockery that FDA, Pfizer, Merck, and Swift have condoned.

Regulation (5, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535399)

From the summary: "'Lobbyists from corporate mega-agribusiness designed this program to destroy traditional small sustainable agriculture,' says Genell Pridgen"

It's true. When The Jungle was published, TR responded with the Pure Food and Drug Act, which regulated and inspected meat packing plants (he also went vegetarian for a little while, which, if you know TR, shows you how much he was affected by Sinclair's book).

Contrary to what many people might think, the large meat companies supported the act. It 1) Improved public perception of the safety of meat, increasing sales, 2) Opened up American meats to the European market and 3) Added significant costs to the industry, which put their smaller competitors out of business.

You can learn a lot from history.

Re:Regulation (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535811)

If (relatively inexpensive) safety measures put a company out of business, then they had no business being in business.

Re:Regulation (4, Insightful)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535995)

If (relatively inexpensive) safety measures put all the mom and pop companies out of business, then they had no business being in business.

Fixed your quote for you. You can't hide that you hate everyone's parents now.

Re:Regulation (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535937)

It 1) Improved public perception of the safety of meat, increasing sales,

Forget perception. It improved the safety, and quality, of meat full stop.

The reality is that the food industry as a whole needs these regulations. Left to their own devices, food producers will quite happily sell us sawdust and animal faeces to eat, feed dead cows to other cows, and buy, sell and slaughter sick, dying and dead animals that have been hauled across continents. All for a few pennies extra.

BSE would not have happened if their was regulation of the kind of practices the meat industry was using. The Gros Michel banana would still be on shelves if anyone had had the sense to put a stop to the homogenisation in the fruit industry. Swine Flu's resistance to medication is the direct result of feeding battery farmed pigs anti-biotics instead of reducing pig density.

The food industry cannot, will not and should not ever be allowed to regulate itself. While microchip tags seem frivolously sophisticated for a task that plastic ear tags have accomplished successfully for years, the concept of cattle IDs is an appropriate measure to control disease, improve meat safety and generally keep a tighter leash on an industry that should never be allowed to roam freerange.

So work out the bugs and END MAD COW DISEASE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535411)

If all of us can take off our shoes etc. every time we fly to see grandma or get on a ferry, ranchers and meat packers can sure has hell do what it takes to make sure no one else dies of Mad Cow disease and the like in the US. Quit being greedy bastards. If there are some issues to fix, work with USDA (you all practically owned the place for the last 8 years).

Re:So work out the bugs and END MAD COW DISEASE (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535449)

Ok, to put this in perspective, this is akin to having a centralized database for all hard drives, SSDs and flash memory that report if they have viruses or not. The downside is this costs $50 per device. Sure, the idea is good, but the implementation is terrible. And really, there are many small farms across the USA where this would destroy their way of life.

Re:So work out the bugs and END MAD COW DISEASE (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535687)

There is no way an RFID costs $50. Fifty cents, maybe. Besides, cows are all ear tagged now anyways, so it's really a matter of shifting the cost from an ear tag to an RFID. In other words, apart from the reader there would be no net change of cost. The only people whose way of life this might ruin would be the Mennonite/Amish.

Re:So work out the bugs and END MAD COW DISEASE (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535699)

Except that a 30 cent RFID doesn't add much to the total cost of cattle. Combined that with the fact that buying in quantities of a thousand you can even pay significantly less. RFID readers aren't that expensive either as a small farm would only need one or two readers. In the grand scheme of things this would only be expensive to implement if it was implemented extremely poorly but the argument isn't based on that presumption, it's based on the cost factor.

Re:So work out the bugs and END MAD COW DISEASE (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535745)

Are you selling hard drives to consumers? Will people be physically injured by HDD viruses? Does each disk serve hundreds of people? No? Well then I guess your analogy is very very poor.

Re:So work out the bugs and END MAD COW DISEASE (1)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535755)

Your perspective is skewed somewhat by the number you chose there.

Even assuming just expensive SSDs in your analogy (rather than dirt cheap flash). your $50 notional device is going to be at least 50% of the cost of the thing it's tagging.

Were this the case with beef cattle in the US you'd be talking a tag that cost around $45/cwt - or say in the region of $300. In reality these things cost as little as $1. Government mandated massive deployment would likely force the price down further.

So, your analogy of an enforced extra 50% expense in reality translates to an extra expense well below half a percent - which doesn't seem as grim.

TBH I'm unsure if the idea is good, but device cost specifically is likely not much of a factor.

Why bother (2, Insightful)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535865)

I mean since everyone seems to not know this mad cow disease is actually extremely rare. So rare that there are no known cases being caused by US, New Zealand, Canadian, or Australian beef the last time I checked.(Mostly because it's so cheap to feed cows here in the US corn and grass, beef producers generally don't bother feeding them that ground up animal garbage or if they do only at the very end. Outlaw that practice and you wouldn't have to worry.)

Dear Slashdot Editors, (0, Offtopic)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535431)

You aren't the mainstream media, you don't have to put those oh so clever puns in the title.

Re:Dear Slashdot Editors, (2, Funny)

mano.m (1587187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535577)

I don't think they're going to be cowed down.

Re:Dear Slashdot Editors, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535781)

reddit is ---------> that way [digg.com]

Well... (3, Funny)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535439)

I think the ranchers oppose having their animals chipped because then it becomes too easy for the government to abuse its power and round their cattle up like cattle.

Hmmm. (2, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535443)

The cost of the rfids would be practically nothing. They have to give them their shots anyway (mmmmm, tasty growth hormone), so that's just one more.

The movement issue is more real, because the range on the readers is tiny, but we've all seen lab experiments where hackers read an rfid enabled card from 200 feet away with a cantenna, so I'm not inclined to believe this to be an unsolvable problem.

And the internet thing is a joke. The amount of actual data collected would be pretty small (in the grand scheme). Uploading it every week or so wouldn't be a huge burden.

Re:Hmmm. (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535609)

Yep, a reader mounted to where the cattle passes by as gthey load it onto the truck and an access database could easily do this from anyone with less then 200 head.

The data could be uploaded with a dial up connection in minutes. Is that too much? fine next time you drive to town use the connection at the library, or get together with all the ranchers and donate a 1 Mbit line to city hall, with he provision they get a terminal to themselves so there isn't a line to upload the data. Still too much? fine, use data packets from a ham radio to a receiver.

Still too much? fine, go out of business.

Re:Hmmm. (4, Insightful)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535681)

What if "updating every week or so" meant driving 40 miles into town, one way, to use someone elses Internet connection? Now what if it's a verified blizzard outside with temperatures of 0F, 50MPH winds, and 10" of snow on the ground? What if your wife and kids are sick and there's no one else to get the chores done or help them out while you drive your happy butt 40 miles through a blizzard to send the government some bullshit data that the cattle ranchers in China don't?

My point is this, don't automatically assume an Internet connection is convenient or even available.

You likely live in an urban area and have no concept of how much free space there are in some of these cattle herding states. Like most people you're unable to step outside your own life experience and imagine the difficulties that someone else would have.

My next question is are we going to demand this for all IMPORTERS of beef or is this a burden that only good 'ol U.S. Ranchers are going to have to bear?

Re:Hmmm. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535843)

You do realize that this is terribly inaccurate, right? The movements that this sort of thing is tracking aren't within a lot, trust me if one corner of the lot is contaminated all the cattle in the lot are likely to be put down. This is about tracking cows as they go from lot to lot and in that context what you're arguing makes absolutely no sense.

A huge amount of damage was done to the US beef industry when a small number of cows were fed in Canada. It turned out that those particular cows were fed contaminated feed and ended up with mad cow. This technology makes it a lot easier to limit the cows that are put down to ones that are likely infected with better accuracy than what we do now.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

zoobaby (583075) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535709)

Technology isn't an issue on this. Depending on what RFID technology is used, read range wouldn't be an issue. Since cattle life is relatively short, active tags can be used which also address some of the concerns of a single person taking the readings. Also readers can be attached to a trailer, punch a button and read all tags within range (which can be large or small).

Uploading data, you are right, it is very small. A few hundred bits per cow is all that would be needed. Even a old 300 baud modem could upload all the data relatively quickly.

As you also said cost is quite low compared to the operating costs of a ranch. RFID tags are pretty cheap now, $0.10 for passive tags and $10+ for active tags. Readers are $500 to $2k, but those are a one time purchase. If a rancher can't absorb the one time cost, they are really hurting, and the USDA could always subsidize the readers.

Personally Speaking (1, Insightful)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535457)

I'd pay more for them to change the way they do business rather than DIE from consuming their PRODUCT.

But you know me, I'm funny that way.

Re:Personally Speaking (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535525)

That is flamebait. You don't DIE from consuming mad-cow tainted beef.

First it eats your brain.

Then you die.

Re:Personally Speaking (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535615)

Auuuuuuugh! I have it already! Damn you steak at lunch!!!!

Hopefully I die before my timesheet is due...

Re:Personally Speaking (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535731)

You don't even get mad cow from eating the beef.
You have to suck on the brain / spinal cord of a hundred mad cows to get enough prions in you.

Tracking (3, Interesting)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535461)

The difference is that if a person contracts a disease that is a public health risk, the person is generally able to tell physicians who he/she might have had contact with so that person can get treatment, possibily saving their life and slowing the disease spread. Cows can't tell investigators where they have been and who should be notified.

Regarding the cost, I can't imagine that this would be more expensive that the cost of destroying entire herds of cattle when one cow comes down with a confirmed or probable case of these diseases. Being able to isolate the infected could decrease the numbers needed to be destoyed saving money. The difference is that farms can claim the loss of the animal in insurance which is a sunk cost, versus a preventative cost. This would save money upstream as well in the form of smaller recalls to distributors, which seem to happen more and more frequently in the US.

Internet access isn't a good excuse as a low-bandwidth cellular scanner would be enough to report via SOAP web-service to whatever database; not to mention that every industry has costs-of-doing-business and this will/could be one of those things.

I haven't read enough to comment on the implementation of this plan but on the surface, I can't see why this wouldn't be a good idea from a public health perspective.

Re:Tracking (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535515)

Regarding the cost, I can't imagine that this would be more expensive that the cost of destroying entire herds of cattle when one cow comes down with a confirmed or probable case of these diseases.

Its a risk many would prefer to take though. There is only a tiny risk that this might happen. On the other hand, for every cow you have you would need a microchip which would add a ton of costs. For a mega-farm this makes sense, for the average small rancher with 50 or so head of cattle, this only will send them into bankruptcy.

Re:Tracking (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28536047)

> On the other hand, for every cow you have you would need a microchip which would add a ton of costs.

Yes, because obviously a few cents for an RFID tag equals 'a ton of costs'. We're not talking about borg implants here.

Re:Tracking (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535591)

Well, would you rather risk a one-in-a-million shot of losing one million dollars, or be forced to spend $100,000 to (maybe) avoid it?

What if either amount would put you out of business?

Furthermore, its not just the chip. The chip, the cost to implant the chip, the time to read the chip however often is required, the time and cost to store/upload the data, the internet connection, the computer, etc.

Re:Tracking (1)

rjhubs (929158) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535647)

Isn't this skirting the issue though? The solution to Mad Cow disease should be having regulations against having spinal meat being processed and sold to consumers. Granted being able to eradicate sick cows is a bonus, taking simple measures in how we process are meat solves the most serious problem.

Re:Tracking (5, Insightful)

Bunny Guy (1345017) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535691)

O.K - having just returned from my vacation in Oregon "cow country" (prospecting for sunstones), I can clue you in on what's wrong with your world view.

Having looked at the program - the information they are trying to gain is - where has the cow been, and what other livestock has it associated with. This means that you have to read the chip and report, every time an animal is moved. It may happen more frequently, but moves would happen at least from high to low pastures and back - because of the weather.

So you have lots of reads, sometimes on small numbers of cattle. For the collected information to be useful it's got to be timely. Most people don't appreciate the scale of even eastern Oregon (much less New Mexico - I've lived in both). This leads up to the next problem -

THERE IS NO CELLULAR ACCESS - there isn't cell access for 100 miles in any direction from where I was. Heck, even the 162.XX weather radio was inaudable (I'm a ham, too) So much for your "low cost cellular scanner". Sat Radio would work - know what an irridium set with data costs? Not cheap, and every hand moving cattle has to have one.

Basically, it's clear that this rule was proposed by people who don't have a clear picture of the area they are asking this to be applied to - much less of the processes of the people who would actually do it.

Re:Tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535881)

I've also lived in cattle ranch country in New Mexico, and you're absolutely correct. It's easy to think the internet connection is a non-issue when you live in an area where there's a starbucks on every street corner and a cell tower within eyesight no matter where you are. Problem though is that most beef cattle territory is the exact opposite of that.

Re:Tracking (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535733)

I could take you to 25 different places on ranches I know of right now where your low-bandwidth cellular scanner would be as useful as lipstick on a pig.

You obviously don't spend much time outside in "Big Sky" states or you'd know better than to propose cellular ANYTHING as a communications solution. Cell phones flat don't work in much of the back country and the back country is where you tend to find a lot of cattle.

Re:Tracking (5, Informative)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535747)

Internet access isn't a good excuse as a low-bandwidth cellular scanner would be enough to report via SOAP web-service to whatever database; not to mention that every industry has costs-of-doing-business and this will/could be one of those things.

You assume far too much, out in the western US ranch country there is usually no communication services of any kind. I have a small (a few square kilometers) ranch in Nevada that is 20 miles from the next ranch (never mind a road), typical for western ranching operations. I get cellular reception -- one bar -- if I climb to the peak of the adjacent mountain, that several thousand extra feet gives me line-of-sight to an area near an Interstate highway 30-40 miles away.

There seems to be a presumption (1) that western ranches are the size of hobby farms, (2) that they are located anywhere near infrastructure, and (3) that free-range cattle is a tidy local pasture-and-barn affair instead of a horseback operation in remote canyons. In many parts of the western ranching areas, you don't even locate all of your cattle for the better part of a year.

It also makes loss of cattle easy to track... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535503)

Right now if a ranch has a serious infection they can quietly dispose of the corpses and obviously infected. If there's a government database it becomes pretty obvious if way too few cattle make it to market from a ranch.

Also, it makes it obvious if someone tries to market a cow they didn't purchase, that perhaps strayed onto their land (it does happen, especially in areas with open grazing permits).

Ridiculous paranoia (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535519)

'Tracking cattle now, tracking you soon.'

Ha! As if. Look, we grant cattle no rights, so it's not infringing their rights to have them be tracked. So it's a far step from there to tracking humans. It's like saying "Squashing spiders with slippers today, squashing people with slippers soon'. It's nonsensical. Besides, the reason cows have no rights is because they aren't capable of even thinking about the concept of rights much less engaging in protests etc to gain them. So not only are they different morally, they're different practically because it's not like the government could just come and start tracking us all without us noticing and burning down the Capitol.

Hmm? What do you mean "what's that hanging from my ear?" Some piece of plastic with a number on it? Well so there is! Geeze, I don't remember getting my ear pierced, but I did get pretty drunk last Friday... I remember somebody in a suit pointing at me and then I felt like I wanted to lie down... But I must have gone into the tattoo and piercing parlor and gotten pierced. With a tacky and crappy earring too, that doesn't seem to want to come off... I hope I didn't get tattooed too... Oh geeze, what the hell?! "19273g"? What the hell kind of tattoo is that? Alright that's it, no more Friday night benders for me.

Now what was I saying? Oh yeah. Some people are so paranoid!

Re:Ridiculous paranoia (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535625)

Typical slippery slope fallacy.

Re:Ridiculous paranoia (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535659)

Typical slippery slope fallacy.

I see what you did there! =D

Re:Ridiculous paranoia (-1, Offtopic)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535665)

The point still remains that the same technology could be used for people for the same reasons especially if we have a few more swine flu or bird flu scares. Don't you realize that every violation of rights starts really really small? First copy protection just involved a word you had to type from the manual, not too bad right? Then it required serial codes, then you needed to register the serial codes on the internet and people started to get hurt (I remember buying a game at a large retailer with an already used serial code, so what did they do? They gave me a new game then I saw them hand it off to another person to be restocked back on the shelves.... But fact is, everything starts small, sure now this isn't a big deal, but one or two more swine flu outbreaks and it will inch closer to 1984 ever so slowly....

Plus this could be used for slight bits of research for use in humans too.

Re:Ridiculous paranoia (3, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535851)

Don't you realize that every violation of rights starts really really small?

Aside from the fact that my post entire post was essentially a set up for a gag involving people being tranqed and tagged on the street, I was serious when I said this isn't a violation of rights of any kind whatsoever. They're cows. Making them trackable is no more a violation of rights than zoologists tagging birds to track migrations and populations like they've been doing for a long time now. It's nothing like tracking people. And the "right" of the rancher to sell unregulated meat was lost a long time ago, thank goodness, because I'd like to have more assurance that I'm not going to get sick eating some beef than a Consumer Reports grade or a complaint-ridden web forum.

Re:Ridiculous paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535971)

First copy protection just involved a word you had to type from the manual...

No, first they expected people to be civil and not rip off the software industry. Then people started copying programs, cheating the system.

Then what you said happened, then people started copying the parts of the manuals with the needed information, cheating the system.

Then it required serial codes...

...because people were cheating the system and software makers weren't in the market to release their programs for free. So they escalated their measures.

...then you needed to register the serial codes on the internet...

...because people were cheating that system, and, despite all the best intents of the people cheating said system, the software makers just couldn't see the infinite wisdom of giving their stuff away for free without any compensation. So they escalated their measures.

I'm not quite certain what your point is. Everything you described was in response to some other stimulus, not some concerted effort to devour your soul through taking your rights or some sort of Evil(tm). No, really, it was. Directly. You can map it out. Seriously.

But, as it relates to the current story, are you suggesting we don't ever do any sort of recordkeeping, ever, for fear it would infringe on someone's privacy somewhere? Should we perhaps burn all historical books and newspapers because it might mean we can track trends of certain newsworthy people? And if not, why do THEY get their rights to privacy denied? Maybe we should torch all medical records because they might be referred to later? Maybe all your family records, since they might be held against you later?

All I get from your post is "Everything the gummint does is evil". Just like how Neanderthal man knew very well that anything bigger than him was Evil(tm), right?

Re:Ridiculous paranoia (1, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535725)

The issues of tracking cattle are going to be similar to tracking humans. They will learn from this project, so that the one that gets deployed on us will be much less error prone. In fact, people are probably easier to model (very habitual as everyone has a schedule for themselves) whereas a herd has a less rigid schedule.

I wouldn't even call this a slippery slope. This is a stepping stone. It would only be a slippery slope if the lessons learned did not have any applicability to humans. But they do.

Re:Ridiculous paranoia (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535803)

""19273g"? What the hell kind of tattoo is that? "

A noob tattoo

-00345a

Re:Ridiculous paranoia (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535823)

First they came for the cattle, and I said nothing, for I was not cattle.
Then they came for the ducks, and I said nothing, for I eat not ducks.
Then they came for the spinach and I said nothing, as long as I get some.

Seriously, that last sentence of your post is somewhat ironic considering your sig. It's also kind of pathetic that we even need to consider this in any sort of paranoia context, instead of considering the cost/benefit side of things, since that's what it really comes down to. I have no idea either way, but I have my doubts about the benefits.

Re:Ridiculous paranoia (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535869)

There are so many ways you are being tracked already, the 'Tracking cattle now, tracking you soon" fear isn't paranoia, it's whistling in the dark. This issue has nothing whatsoever to do with privacy issues. It is a purely industrial matter. Both agribusiness and small farmers are whining about something that will increase their costs. That's all. Will it put anyone out of business? No, unless they sell less than a few tens of cows a year, in which case they might be better off leaving the business on that small a scale.

There will certainly be an up front hit for the equipment, but the operating expenses afterwards will be low. The internet connection issue is bogus. If the farm is connected by phone, it can sync data. There are consumer-oriented satellite connections as well. Most of the other complaints are about as easy to explain away.

This leaves the cost issue. Is the problem that it is supposed to remedy serious enough to warrant the additional cost and bureaucracy, or not? Do other industries have similar tracking and bureaucracy burdens that they simply chalk up to costs of doing business? I can't see the cattle folks arguing their way out of this. Surely this compares favorably in cost with their heavy use of antibiotics, hormones, and other biologicals.

Internet not Required (0)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535543)

So, if these places don't have Internet, then have a way for them to send in the changes. It should be a simple "cow XXXX received 1/1/01" and "cow YYYY departed 2/2/02" and that should be something that could be tracked by hand, if necessary. Make the tracking required (with microchips and matching ear-tags). Let the ranchers figure out whether tracking electronically or by hand is easier.

Oh, and if the beef industry is about to go under, it's only because the cows have unionized and the bulls will be headed to Congress to ask for a bailout. They may not make much profit, but their product is not very elastic so everyone would just bump up the cost a little and their sales wouldn't take a huge hit, so they can "teeter" another 200 years.

Give the cows cell phones. (4, Insightful)

w3woody (44457) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535581)

"Tracking cattle now, tracking you soon." Too late; I already have a cell phone. I'm already being tracked.

Fine (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535583)

Don't chip your cows. But when the EU, Japan or China bans US beef, don't expect me to back up your complaining. I'm siding with them. And if my supermarket carries beef or food with beef by-products warranted as having been tracked vs untracked varieties, guess which brand I'm buying?

Just another tech to hack. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535633)

The black-hats will have a field day with this one. Imagine aquiring full access to a cattle farmers database.

It would be like virtual biological warfare. You could modify the database in devious ways, slowly causing the collapse of a legitamate business.

As far as the cost of the tags and not having internet access; I realize cattle farming is hard work, but on the other hand I have never seen a poor cattle farmer.

The Farmers are Right (5, Interesting)

Spacepup (695354) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535639)

In this case the farmers are right. The cattle are branded with a unique brand so the rancher knows who it belongs to. In addition, cattle are given an eartag so that the slaughter houses can tell where they came from. Cattle comes from two sources...large industrial like feedlots where the cattle are crowded into a small area and fed grain ...or on ranches where they go free range and graze on grasses. Since a large operation would have maybe 1000 head of cattle, it can be presumed that from the ear tags, if a slaughtered cow is found to have some disease at the slaughter house, it can be narrowed down to one ranch or feed lot.

Now, because of the close confines of the feedlot, it can easily be presumed that the sick cow came into close proximity with all the other cattle there. And so the new technology is just simply not needed, it's a wasteful expense.

For the rancher, equiping each of his hands with a scanner gets expensive. The data is instantly intrusive, as in "why didn't you pasture your cows this way" and in some instances could easily be used by overzealous groups (ie peta) to grief ranchers about their animal husbandry practices.

All in all, it's a lot of expense, a lot of trouble, and a lot of intrusion, for very little is actual gain. In the efforts at finding disease, relying on this system alone to reduce the number of animals tested could mean that positives slip by because they weren't tested as they didn't show up in the contact list for the sick cow.

Re:The Farmers are Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535831)

Hooray! Someone has a brain cell on!

The smaller farms are the least of the problems. With the smaller herds, the farmer/rancher is much more aware of the health of each cow in the first place. Adding the additional cost of a scanner (or more than one) to someone who might not even HAVE a computer? Come on wake up! /rant
A lot of the posters here need to disconnect and go find a dirt road somewhere.... leave the cell phone at home 'cause it won't work! Internet access? Forget it... unless your idea of a grand time is a spotty 4800 baud connection, if you're lucky. Really people, once you get outside the loop and a few miles away from the Interstates all the flashy tech you are used to using is bunk.

Where's the beef? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535641)

I guess now we'll know.

Re:Where's the beef? (1)

MikeV (7307) | more than 5 years ago | (#28536031)

What, haven't you learned by now? Beef comes from the grocer in those little shrink-wrapped packages. :)

I hope the tinfoil hat idiots don't block it (1)

RWerp (798951) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535671)

This program will spare us from having to kill off all these thousands of cattle just because 1 or 2 was diagnosed with some rare disease.

Re:I hope the tinfoil hat idiots don't block it (1)

MikeV (7307) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535987)

Computers were supposed to bring in the paperless office. Has it? Nope. Neither will this program stop the killing off of entire herds when one or two are diagnosed. Has zero to do with NAIS and everything with guilty by association - if one or two are diagnosed, then chances are the others may be contaminated too and must be destroyed. No tin-foil hats here. My hat is aluminum foil.

This is nuts. (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535677)

I swear, people (in government especially) think that because we have these computers we have to fill them up with data. People end up unnecessarily being slaves to the damn computer.

Same story (1)

pigwiggle (882643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535721)

as small toy makers. Mattel, Hasbro, et al. wrote the Lead-Free legislation. Not too surprisingly the requirements are onerous for local one-off type toy makers that saw a boon after the lead doped Chinese manufactured toy story broke. This is the tragedy of American democracy. You don't really have much say in law. Well connected people with money do.

Actual costs? (2, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535749)

They're hemming and hawing about the costs? It's about $6 per tag today. Economy of scale could drive that a lot lower. And the tags can be removed and recycled into a new animal (betcha didn't know that!) -- after being properly sterilized, of course. They last about a 100+ years. The reader itself, as a handheld model runs anywhere from $150 to $1000 depending on range and other options. It's not necessary for it to connect to the internet or anything like that -- and the amount of data we're talking about could be handled via a 9600 baud modem! It's just a serial number for crissakes. Yes, farmers have teh intarwebs too. -_-

Each beef cow is worth about $800. Assuming 10% of the chips need to be replaced per... that's 60 cents. For something worth $800. The overhead here really is negligible, especially for a CAFO. That's an industrial feed lot, for those of you who don't know -- they're fed corn and kept in stalls, not grass-fed and left in fields. And did I mention it's all tax-deductible? Most everything on a farm is. Well, except you, that is. hehe.

So, in short... It's bull. Literally and figuratively. //Disclaimers: I have five dots in Lore:Rural. I am also a computer geek.

This is just more stuff (3, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535855)

I talked recently to a small farmer with a few cows. They are already required to document entry and exit of cattle into and out of each county. Since their farm has multiple fields which are in two separate counties, they are required to submit this documentation each time they move an animal between the two fields. Which is of course stupid, but the regulations were designed without any consideration for a split-county operation like this.

This person has maybe 20 head, total. With the existing regulations it is almost too much to bother with. Adding more tracking, with more hardware requirements and obviously training for all hands involved it is going to be impractical for them to continue.

Yes, there were some feed problems for cows. Most of these problems have been identified and dealt with. I suspect there are still a few, but nothing that is going to create anything like the mad cow panic. Piling more and more regulation, especially regulation that is not focused on real problems buy imaginary ones, will simply mean that all cattle are raised by factory farms.

Pfft (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535897)

(Speaking as someone who works within one of the largest meatworks company in Australia, so each to their own)

Over here in Australia, we have had a National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) RFID ear tags on cows for about the last 3 yrs.

The tags themselves work out to about $3.50AU ea. The growers were a bit unhappy at the start but it was compulsory so they got over it. Im sure prices were jacked up accordingly to cover the cost.

All the info is stored in a goverment owned db and at time of slaughter or sale can checked to confirm that the cow was free from disease.

The most expensive part is probably the RFID wands as there is only one company in Australia that specializes in RFID wands for the cattle industry.

Anyway, in the end. The small growers are still alive and doing well. Nothings really changed, except now there is a tracking system for cows to ensure quality meat.

Australia does is better. (3, Interesting)

xmiker (1491397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535911)

If Australian cattle farmers, including the operators of the 6,000,000 acre Anna Creek Station (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Creek_station) in South Australia can implement tagging of all of their cattle, why can't you Americans just do it as well, instead of whining? I take it the US won't be complaining when Japan, Korea and the European Union don't want to buy their untraceable beef. (http://www.mla.com.au/TopicHierarchy/IndustryPrograms/NationalLivestockIdentificationSystem/default.htm)

Tough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28535913)

The irony is that should we have an outbreak of mad cow disease traced to beef these same ranchers will come begging to the government for aid. I don't understand how those who worship at the altar of Capitalism (or the Marketplace if you prefer) bemoan the disappearance of the smaller less efficient ranches. Office Depot and Staples killed off the independent office supply store, it was not the end of civilization. I'm not defending the virtue of large corporations but I don't automatically associate virtue with small size either.

I see. (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535945)

That program sounds fantastic to me. And this opinion is not influenced at all [legalcasedocs.com] by the beef industry.

I might say that maybe we should just start by making it illegal to feed animals (especially old/diseased animals) to herbivore livestock. Or maybe make antibiotic feed illegal. Maybe just require labeling of if you use antibiotics or GE meat.

But I wouldn't say any of that. I love the Texas beef industry.

*please don't sue me*

I have always been amazed... (1)

MikeV (7307) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535953)

...at just how fast the powers that be can track down a food contamination all the way to a herd and all the way thru the herd to an individual calf and even back to the rancher who reared that calf. So... what are they trying to do here? We ALREADY have measures in place that allows us to track diseased cattle - it's far more accurate and faster even than tracking produce and trying to find contaminated tomatoes! It's not broken - and they're trying to fix it. Usually when that happens, there's an agenda.

Computerworld version of the story (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28535957)

Last September, in Moo IT [computerworld.com] Computerworld had a slightly less paranoid version of this story.

Scary.. (1)

cyberjock1980 (1131059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28536015)

What scares me about this idea is in the article itself. 'Tracking cattle now, tracking you soon.' seems so much more likely than I thought at first.

FTA: "The FDA wants to track cow movements in case a breakout of bovine tuberculosis."

Why does this sound very similar to an arguement in 20 years saying...

"The US Government wants to track human movements in case a breakout of ."

I could totally see the Government setting up 'checkpoints' at airports, highways, etc that you walk/drive by and it just watches where you go. Scary thought, but I believe the technology to make this a reality is here already. Anyone disagree?

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