top of page

When Will America Start Thinking for Herself Again?

Not long ago our all-knowing government agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture or USDA, first proposed to require all farm animals to be individually identified with electronic identification. We know this as radio frequency identification (RFID), which of course is used for surveillance purposes.

The government’s ingenious plan had some holes. Chief among them was they couldn’t figure out how to affix an RFID surveillance eartag on a chicken.

And that’ll be the end of any more humor.

But this was near fatal so the government scaled back – it decided to focus principally on farm animals with big ears and for other farm animals it would simply maintain and build on the identification requirements of existing disease program regulations.

In a nutshell, that explains the government’s intensely focused and persistent efforts to force American cattle farmers and ranchers to affix RFID surveillance eartags on their cattle and bison.

Now even for that plan, there were holes. You see the government wanted to impose its RFID surveillance mandate within every state, but there’s this thing called the Tenth Amendment to our Constitution that limits the federal government from doing that.

So, when the government was reminded it only had jurisdiction in interstate commerce, it scaled back its plans again.

But even then, the plan still had holes. While the government wanted all cattle of all ages to be surveilled with RFID eartags, there were just too many good ol’ American just-say-no folks for the government to not back off. And so it did again, and today it seeks to mandate RFID surveillance eartags on only adult cattle and bison that cross state lines.

So why is the government feverishly trying to mandate RFID surveillance eartags for just the 11 million head of adult cattle estimated to cross state lines each year? That’s only about 11% of the inventory of the U.S. cattle herd.

The government says the RFID surveillance eartags on every cow are needed to contain disease outbreaks, but that its proposal to require surveillance eartags on just 11% of the cattle herd will accomplish that objective. Now that doesn’t pass the stupid test. If it’s true the health of the U.S. cattle herd requires that every cow be surveilled with an RFID eartag, as the USDA claimed until lately, then why has the USDA kept scaling back its plan in a, “We’ll just take anything we can get” frame of mind?

And if foot-and-mouth disease is among the government’s prime disease concerns as it states it is, then why haven’t they attempted to include a surveillance RFID tag for every hog moved in interstate commerce in their new surveillance proposal?

There are 72 million hogs and pigs, which is not much fewer than the 94 million cattle and calves. And hogs are at least as susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease as cattle. So how can this new proposal be about containing a disease outbreak if it only includes 11% of the cattle herd and none of the 72 million hogs in its RFID surveillance mandate?

Let’s dig deeper to find the driving force behind the mandatory RFID surveillance eartags. During America’s infatuation with globalization, there emerged a World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, World Organization for Animal Health, and of course more.

Common among these three named global governance organizations is their push for what’s called the Global One Health movement.

The USDA states that through Global One Health it “achieves optimal health outcomes for both animals and people.”

This suggests that today the USDA is more reliant on directions from Global One Health than it was before the globalization movement began. Conversely, this means the USDA is less reliant today on America’s own ability to think, research, and act on health issues affecting cattle and other livestock than it was before globalization.

Now the World Organization for Animal Health states that all countries “should establish a legal framework for the implementation and enforcement of animal identification and animal traceability in the country.” It also said, “In order to facilitate compatibility and consistency, relevant international standards and obligations should be taken into account.”

So, through its interdependency with the World Trade Organization, Global One Health delivers marching papers to the USDA.

Dr. Robert Thornsberry, a veterinarian and past president of R-CALF USA, wrote in an opinion/editorial in the mid-2000s that he was told by a high-ranking USDA official that the USDA wants to be in compliance with the World Organization for Animal Health regulations by 2010.

So now we know. The driving force behind the USDA’s unrelenting quest to ultimately mandate a RFID surveillance eartag on every cow is the directive from global elites who want America to conform to their one-size-fits-all arbitrary standard.

So when, oh when will America start thinking for herself again?

# # #

R-CALF USA’s weekly opinion/commentary educates and informs both consumers and producers about timely issues important to the U.S. cattle industry and rural America.

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

R-CALF USA | PO Box 30715, Billings, MT 59107 | Phone 406-252-2516 | Fax 406-252-3176


NAA Sidebar Ads (1).png
FLy In NAA Ad.jpg
WIA Summit 24 1080x1080 banner.jpg
Feeding the world in style.png
bottom of page