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National Assn. of Farm Animal Welfare

by Darol Dickinson – 9-23-09


Scalping the American Indian is not a new thing for the Federal Government. At certain points of history it appeared somewhat like a game to play soldiers and Indians, to test if repeating rifles compared favorably with wooden bows and arrows. The most recent game is the bribery of tribes for NAIS conquest.

Sec. Vilsack says NAIS is $170 million to date

On August 31, Secretary Vilsack stated that “…..the USDA has spent $170,000,000 to promote the NAIS program.” Although it has been the “shining program on a hill” for USDA, it has met with dismal disaster and disgust to 95% of livestock producers.

In the origin of NAIS it was to be a “coming together” of stakeholders, industry partners, state and federal partnerships, and TRIBES. At first blush, tribes seemed to be a very minor player in the USA livestock industry and the absolute least likely player to be out on the reservation sitting on the tail gate of a pickup, with a lap top computer, recording goat numbers. But, tribes continue in the USDA rhetoric as NAIS is promoted. Over a dozen years of NAIS promotion came and went but the “tribes” remain media silent regarding their NAIS grants.

USDA has worked tirelessly to reach some documentable percentage of premises enrollment that would look good to Congress, and has totally failed. Tribes were a unique stone that turned up to help get badly needed enrollment numbers.

Who are Tribes?

Tribes is a term referring to a number of families and nations within the USA of the historic “red man.” Tribes are located both in designated areas with their own indigenous governments and some have chosen to intermingle throughout the nation blending into all forms of businesses. Their colorful tribal names easily delineate them such as Hopi, Arapaho, Chappaquiddick, Navajo, Ute, Shoshone, Pawnee, Chippewa Cree, Paiute, Taos, Cherokee, Jicarillo Apachi, Mohawk, Osage, Ogalala Sioux, Zuni, Cheyenne, and Pueblo.

Tribal members number 696,600 in California, the most of any state. Oklahoma, known as home for several of the historic families numbers just over 400,000. The Navajo Nation, with governmental authorities headquartered at Window Rock, Arizona, is the largest non U.S. owned parcel in the U.S., with a total of 17,061,885 acres of heavily trampled scenic tourist vista. The Navajo Nation with 27,000 square miles sports 345,800 head of livestock with a carrying capacity of one sheep, one goat and one cow per 148 acres. There are just over 300,000 members of the Navajo tribe in every direction of the Four Corners.

Realizing the small numbers of tribally owned cattle it was difficult at first to understand why the tribes were even minimally important to USDA for premises enrollment. However, the facts eventually crawl to light.

How Do Tribes Work?

Many of the northern tribes have millions of acres of grass land. Some parcels are divided among tribal families and they raise open range cattle, others lease lands to tribal members or local ranchers. Still these numbers are not large on a national basis.

The Jicarilla Apache ranching interests around Dulce, New Mexico brings a new light to tribal NAIS numbers. The over a million acres of rugged sage brush land spread over the Continental Divide is grazed by mixed breeds of cattle featuring Texas Longhorn genetics. It is not divided and operated by individual tribal members, but rather managed by a cattle handling staff full time and the profits are divided up among tribal members. Over 3000 Jicarilla Apache are regarded as ranchers or livestock owners and each one can qualify as an individual premises in Rio Arriba and Sandoval Counties of New Mexico. This type of large NAIS enrollment would be a prime plumb to USDA’s Hammerschmidtz and Weimer as they buy compliance cooperators. On many reservations the small token payments to tribes may quite well have bought the NAIS enrollments for the majority of the whole state.

What Did Tribes Get Paid?

Although every tax payer appreciates the federal government being frugal, special NAIS grants and cooperative sign-up agreements to tribes were a despicable racist insult. Tribes uninformed about the NAIS cooperative agreements ($170,000,000) were severely duped compared to non-tribal and intergovernmental doles.

The New Mexico Dept. of Agriculture and Livestock Board received $1,796,275, yet seven disbursements to different New Mexico tribes totaled $82,000 (Jicarilla received $28,000 of that amount.) California Dept. of Food & Agriculture and the University of California at Davis received $4,901,370 with the California Tule River Tribe receiving a paltry $20,000. The Oklahoma Board of Agriculture and Oklahoma Langston University received NAIS grants of $3,620,342 and all Indian Tribes in Oklahoma received $88,000 of that amount. Up north the South Dakota Animal Industry Board received $3,155,907 with the large tribes in that state dividing up only $298,000.

NAIS Oversight

NAIS cooperative agreements were first pitched with promises of serious evaluations of a premise enrollment cost in comparison to numbers. Those recipients who performed well and captured large numbers of enrollees would be treated more generously than those who just spent the money carelessly. Like many government hallucinations there was to be “careful” oversight. Not so! Colorado received funds of $4,896,993 and recorded a cost per single premise enrollment of $609. Kansas received $3,882,270 with a cost of $483 each. Now, on the other hand, the cost per premises enrollment in Montana was $1,452; New Hampshire was a whopping $2,623; Vermont $5,776; Not to be underdone, tiny Rhode Island signed up 15 people for the “bargain” price of $11,301 each.

Putting the Puzzle Together

Now, the tribal puzzle comes together. Neil Hammerschmitdz, John Weimer, and a cast of thousands of USDA staff contrived the NAIS scenario, starting with foundations laid in the early 1990s. Tribes may well be the most economical cost per NAIS enrollee of the entire program.

Who got Scalped?

At first blush the red man got scalped by the white man once again. Tribes received pennies on the dollar compared to in-house USDA branch governments and USDA grant Universities. The red man without doubt got the shaft again! On second thought, the “no oversight” funding also given to the Angus, Holstein and Dairy industry for NAIS enrollment was very, very generous. Yet, in the end, there is certainty about the flawed, ruthless NAIS program — the USA taxpayers were the real ones who got the big bloody scalping!