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The “People’s Department” Shrugs Off the People

BILLINGS, Mont., | In February, the U.S. military began tracking an object believed to be a Chinese surveillance balloon over the skies of cattle country in Montana. The U.S. military soon shot the balloon down to protect the United States’ national security threatened by Chinese surveillance. In the month prior to this national security event, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed a rule to require America’s cattle producers to affix electronic surveillance devices on their adult cattle when transporting them across state lines.

Among the handful of USDA-approved manufacturers from which American cattle producers would be directed to purchase their mandatory electronic surveillance devices was a company designated by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs as China’s manufacturer of electronic animal identification products, Wuxi Fofia Technology Co., Ltd.

Concerned that perhaps all of the USDA-approved manufactures of the mandatory electronic surveillance devices were under the control of the Communist Party of China, R-CALF USA in late January sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking for the origins of all the manufacturers of the USDA-approved electronic devices. Concerned that Chinese manufactured electronic surveillance devices would aid China in its surveillance of the United States, R-CALF USA stated in its letter, “R-CALF USA members remain fundamentally averse to any administrative mandate that would compel them to support the Communist Party of China ... through their business purchases.”

About a decade ago, in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Secretary Vilsack highlighted the fact that Abraham Lincoln called the U.S. Department of Agriculture “The People’s Department.”

Despite this benevolent description of the department he heads, Vilsack’s response to the ranch group’s letter was void of any information regarding the manufacturer origins of any of the USDA-approved electronic devices that America’s cattle producers would be forced to purchase if the proposed rule becomes final.

“Our important request, with clear national security implications, was summarily disregarded by ‘The People’s Department,’" said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard who added, “Not only that, but on March 21 I called the USDA office number Vilsack provided in his letter in an attempt to verify that the Secretary was refusing to answer our request and as of today, no one has even bothered to call back.”

“By completely shrugging off our request for critically important factual information relative to his own proposed rule, Vilsack has placed us people in the untenable position of having to submit comments pertinent to national security that will be void of any factual basis,” said Bullard.


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Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) is the largest producer-only lobbying and trade association representing U.S. cattle producers. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. Visit www.r-calfusa.com or call (406) 252-2516 for more information.

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