Monday, June 29, 2009

Westerners bristle at federal tracking of cattle

The headline in yesterday's New York Times was "Rebellion on the Range Over a Cattle ID Plan," and the dateline for Erik Eckholm's story was Horse Springs, New Mexico, an unincorporated community in Catron County, New Mexico, population 3,543 and population density of 1 person for every two square miles. (Horse Springs itself is not a Census Designated Place).

Eckholm's story features the 22,000-acre Platt Ranch where every hundred acres supports just one cow. There, third-generation proprietor Jay Platt is refusing to abide by a new federally mandated livestock identification and tracking plan. Here's an excerpt from Eckholm's story:
“This plan is expensive, it’s intrusive, and there’s no need for it,” Mr. Platt said.
* * *

“They can’t comprehend the vastness of a ranch like this,” he said of federal officials. “They don’t appreciate what is involved logistically.”

Ranchers like Mr. Platt have been joined by small-scale family farmers and other agrarian advocates to oppose the national animal identification system, a plan first broached five years ago by the Bush administration.
Eckholm notes that government officials underestimated the "visceral opposition" to the plan. I'm not sure why. The reaction seems rather predictable to me, especially in the region that gave us the sagebrush rebellion.

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