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  • Tales of the Red Tape #36: USDA Lays a Regulatory Egg

    The Obama Administration fervently opposes state laws requiring voter identification to cast a ballot. But it is insisting that the nation’s farmers prove the identity of every chicken transported across state lines.

    Under the fowl rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a flock that has been hatched, fatted, and butchered as a single unit may be transported from state to state with a “group identification.” But such groups are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

    The vast majority of poultry owners are not part of a vertically integrated commercial operation. They routinely co-mingle chicken stock of varying sources and ages. Consequently, under the rule, they will have to attach sealed and numbered leg bands to every bird they transport.

    The federal coop cops say the regulation is needed to enhance the “traceability” of livestock to control animal disease. But that explanation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The Regulatory Impact Analysis that accompanies the proposed rule lacks any quantification of (supposed) benefits or the very real costs.

    Nearly 9 billion chickens went to market last year, moving from hatcheries to farms to slaughter houses.

    Most broilers live only five to eight weeks. In that short span, their IDs will have to be changed a number of times—with documentation—to accommodate leg growth. And the USDA wants all such records to be maintained for five years—the costs of which ain’t chicken feed.

    As the Small Business Administration noted, “Small poultry operations have very thin profit margins that cannot absorb the cost increases from the tagging and record keeping requirements of this rule.”

    The benefits of the poultry rule would be paltry. It’s unclear, for example, how forcing thousands of people to maintain billions of documents on dead chickens for years would enhance traceability. As it is, evidence of disease typically results in the destruction of the flock. Only healthy birds are eligible for slaughter and sale.

    There is one upside to the USDA action in that it finally solves the nagging question of why the chicken crossed the road.

    To escape federal regulators, of course.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Tales of the Red Tape #36: USDA Lays a Regulatory Egg

    1. Bob Freelove says:

      Just when you think things couldn't get crazier…. The Obama administration wants to know the identity of each chicken that are transported over state lines! Really? No wonder our economy isn't recovering. Obama and the Federal Government need to STOP THIS NONSENSE !

    2. Now think this regulation through. When the bird is slaughtered, does the tag have to go with it? When the legs are separated from the wings, from the breasts, etc… do we need to duplicate the tags? When the breast is packaged for retail sale, does each breast have to have a tag? When KFC cooks that breast, will it still have the tag attached? What do you, as a consumer of that breast, do with the tag? So every 20 piece bucket of KFC will have 20 tags? Seems to me we will need a warning on the package not to eat the tags! Warning: Choke Hazard ! This is nonsense. Clearly, there are too many people who don’t have enough to do if they are dreaming these “solutions” up. Less spending. Smaller government.

    3. Don Atchison says:

      The only group that benefits from this regulation is the tag manufacturer. The USDA has tried this before with the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) . NAIS was a government program that threatens to put thousands of small farmers and ranchers out of business. It was an expensive and unnecessary federal program requiring owners of livestock to tag their animals with electronic tracking devices and report to a data base within 24 hours any births, deaths, ownership transfers, and changes in location. Now the USDA has selected chickens – it failed in 2009 because they had no budget and most livestock owners ignored them.

    4. Jim says:

      It's all part of conglomeration. The larger companies can absorb or circumvent theeffects of the law, while the smaller, more competetiveoutfits will fail with the cost burden of the new overhead and the larger corps will take over their shake. This conglomeration game has been played with salmonella for chickens and mad cow for beef, and indifferent fruit markets. Just keep your eyes open.

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