Often regulations, like the road to hell, are paved with good intentions.
I recently watched a documentary on FOX about “Mountain Pride” and how the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was able to break that pride successfully, but once you have the full story you determine how successful it really was for America as a whole.
A quick synopsis:
According to the documentary, in the forties the USDA came up with a great plan. Many were starving due to their inability to find work and at the same time farmers were unable to sell their crops, thus came about the first food stamps. The USDA approached farmers and asked them to sell their crops at half-price and they would issue stamps to the needy and the poor. A win-win situation — farmers were paid something for the crops that they had been unable to sell and were rotting and the USDA was able to direct starving people to where they could get food.
After the depression, the welfare program remained with the USDA and they continued to oversee its execution, despite the fact that the surplus crops were gone and people were now finding jobs. Today’s welfare program is no longer based on helping our farmers and our needy at the same time, but the program still remains with the USDA.
The war on poverty movement began and the USDA became more aggressive about making sure that no one went hungry. The intent was good. Interestingly, according to this documentary the war on poverty was making a difference, but not the one they had anticipated. Prior to the war on poverty, they found that poverty was a temporary condition, yet now most people who were receiving government assistance remained in poverty. Poverty was not resolving as it had in the past. Some reasons seemed to be because those on government assistance could not afford to give up the benefits they received (because they would make less working) and for others it was because they chose this as a lifestyle and saw no need to work.
Going further, the documentary shared that the USDA generated reports to see which counties, states, etc. had a higher and or lower incidence of welfare use and they found a place in North Carolina that had no welfare use (or it was close to no recipients). They sent one of their outreach workers there to find out why. There they found an extremely rare commodity, pride. The people referred to it as “mountain pride.” The people within this community chose to work for what they needed and refused to take government assistance. When folks in town were struggling, the churches, neighbors and local businesses took care of them until they could find work and get back on their feet – almost a novel idea! It was working, too. People did get back on their feet, they found jobs and then they were in turn able to help someone else who might be going through a rough time. The situation was temporary was the important part. The USDA officer continuously tried to tell people of the community that they were eligible for government assistance, yet the USDA was always confronted with the concept of Mountain Pride.
USDA decided not to give up and that they would “break” this mountain pride! They eventually did succeed by letting people of the community know that they could use the money to buy seeds. Now, years later, those receiving benefits are not getting off of assistance and are not willing to take jobs at a lower wage, because they have a greater income and better benefits by remaining on the USDA assistance program. Jobs are going unfilled and several from this town shared their frustration for today’s lack of Mountain Pride within their once proud community.
Additionally, the Ashe county department of social services received a prestigious “gold award” for confronting “mountain pride” and increasing food stamp participation by 10 percent. Really, was this a success? It seemed that before the USDA’s involvement mountain pride was addressing the issue in a way that brought about self-respect and resolution. It seemed that the USDA had just added to the problem and created a financial debt on this country where one was not previously. A 2011 Hunger Champions Award document reveals that local assistance offices have been rewarded for “counteracting” pride and pushing more people to sign up for benefits.
As I continued to ponder, this brought me to other areas where it seemed that irony had taken a huge role in government involvement and their lack of success. Having three adopted children in our family, I thought of how the system had failed each of these children and the other THOUSANDS that remain in the system. I also thought of the most recent ruling set into place by the USDA/APHIS to protect pets that would cost millions to enforce (the ruling added to the already existing Animal Welfare Act – set to go into effect mid-November of this year).
Don’t get me wrong, I am an animal lover in every respect, but I am first and foremost a respecter of human life. This new program will cost our government millions of dollars to enforce, yet we have children who are dying and abused through the foster care system, because of a lack of funds to address these problems. We have seniors in need and veterans that are homeless. Are we, as a country, more concerned about paying inspectors to find hobby breeders who are neglecting their animals because they aren’t wearing the regulation USDA collar more so than supporting the programs that we already have in place that are failing, such as those meant to protect children, the elderly and our veterans?
One of our children came to us at thirteen months weighing eleven pounds dying and had basically given up on life. Malnourished—starved—neglected physically and emotionally, where were the social workers who were mandated to regularly visit children in these foster homes and ensure their welfare? While I understand the foster care system operates on the local level, rather than at a national level, I also understand that these programs could use help from the national level! To spend millions of dollars on software programs to “mine data” to find hobby breeders (of dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice…) who are in violation of the Animal Welfare Act ruling (and yes, the collar reference is a real one) because they are not raising pets in a USDA approved facility (read cages, rather than in their homes), who are selling pets via the internet (read kill the businesses of hundreds of breeders and make it impossible for the consumer to purchase a pet at a reasonable price because of imposing commercial standards on small hobby breeders) and because the government needs one more area of control over the people! Is this just another way to increase the welfare roles?
I find it absolutely unbelievable that the United States believes that spending millions of dollars to fund such a program is more important than insuring the welfare of children, the elderly and our veterans. The USDA already has an Animal Welfare Act in place that covers the humane treatment of animals. Do we really need to spend more money on making sure that rats, guinea pigs, cats and dogs are raised in sterile cages instead of on a breeder’s couch? Reputable hobby breeders take pride in the fact that their pets have been well-socialized in the home environment prior to placement with their new families and that they didn’t grow up in a cage. So now USDA wants to break that pride, too?
The intentions sound good: to protect the public from unscrupulous breeders (mills, if you will), but this poorly thought out ruling does little to address that issue. It directly impacts the reputable hobby breeder from practicing reputable procedures by limiting their ability to do business and limiting the number of female animals they are allowed (of combined species – so if they have a female rat, a female cat, a female guinea pig, a female dog and a female whatever, you get the picture, they are in violation of the Animal Welfare Act’s new ruling, which also states that many pet breeders, rescues, etc. are pet stores and must operate as such under the USDA regulations) . Inbreeding will become more rampant and the norm, as breeders struggle to keep pedigreed lines intact. The high cost required to meet regulatory requirements (sterile cages, USDA regulated collars and ID tags, USDA record keeping system, etc) will have to be passed on to the consumer. Breeds that we love and have grown up with (Siamese and the German Shepherd for example) will be severely and negatively impacted for what reason? Why should commercial standards be imposed on reputable breeders?
The USDA’s reports state, “We estimate that costs for coming into compliance at those currently non-compliant breeders could range from $2.9 million to $12.1 million in the first year.”
Additionally, since all costs affecting the agency are costs that will ultimately be paid by taxpayers… During the comment period on this ruling, one commenter brought up some very interesting numbers, “Assuming that the average inspector is a GS 9, step 5, an estimated $73,259.10 a year, in salary plus
benefits, and it was estimated that APHIS would need to hire at least 200 new inspectors to implement the rule, at an aggregate cost of $14,651,820, and it is also asserted that each new inspector would need a new government-owned vehicle in order to do his or her job, at an aggregate cost of $4,000,000.” Another commenter pointed out “that the economic analysis prepared for the proposed rule did not take into consideration the workforce hours and opportunity costs to Animal Care to implement the rule.” Per the USDA/APHIS both commenters asked that APHIS provide some idea of the cost to Animal Care to implement the rule, pointing out that any costs to APHIS were ultimately costs borne by taxpayers. USDA/APHIS Response: We acknowledge that any potential costs to APHIS were not addressed in the regulatory impact analysis prepared for the proposed rule. APHIS will incur costs incorporating the newly regulated entities into existing regulatory activities. We do not, however, expect these costs to be significant.” I don’t know about you, but the above figures seem significant and that answer appeared to be side-stepping.
Please join with me and make your voice heard. Let congress know that you oppose this ruling and that you request funding be PULLED to support such a program. It is a direct insult to the American people. Recently the government was shut down due to a budget crisis and here we are implementing yet another program to increase the national debt. America, let’s get our priorities straight. Let’s prioritize what “We the People” really means and take care of our people!
To voice your opposition, to support American pet breeders and our right to animal ownership, and additionally to let congress know that you would like to see more emphasis put on people and supporting programs already in effect rather than creating new ones that will only increase our national debt, please take a moment to send a letter to your congressman. You can do so easily with a click on this link. The letter is already formatted and can be sent as is, but you are encouraged to personalize it.
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