Has anyone else been hassled by USDA for refusing/neglecting to fill out their census form?
They kept sending me copies, and I kept throwing them away, because as we increasingly see, USDA fashions its every policy with an eye to promoting the interests of Corporate Ag while squashing small family farms.
In particular, given what we have seen of USDA's lies, deception and coercion in pursuit of their disastrous NAIS policy, I do not trust them to honor their privacy assurances, but rather I expect they will use information from the census to feed into NAIS.
We know that they have lied to the public and to ag organizations about the NAIS policies, e.g. that the program is voluntary when it is in fact coercive, that it will benefit farmers when it would in fact destroy small family farms, etc. They have demanded that vendors of livestock feed require a NAIS "premises id number" or you can't buy feed, in some locales.
NAIS is simply impossible for small, already overworked family farmers to comply with. It would subject anyone keeping any farm animals, even a couple of backyard chickens, to more scrutiny, intrusion and surveillance than a violent felon or convicted pedophile. The record-keeping and reporting requirements are unbelieveable. If the strain of all this added time and labor is not enough to ruin family farms, the fees and potential fines for violating their stupid reporting requirements will finish the job.
So, I told this lady, I am not cooperating with USDA because of their anti-family- farm policies including GAP (see related thread), organic certification (see related thread), and especially NAIS. I told her I did not trust their "privacy" assurances.
She was nice enough but finally said, "I'm not threatening you, but a federal statute requires you to submit this census, and USDA can fine you. You'll be getting letters from the USDA about this."
This is outrageous. We need to be writing our congresspersons about the way USDA is being used to bludgeon family/small farms. We need to build public awareness about what is going on. Let your customers at your Market know, and urge them to talk to local, state, national officials about the desperate need to nurture, rather than impede, community-based agriculture.
I see this situation worsening by the month, as nanny state bureaucrats seem to be crawling out of the woodwork like so many termites. If we don't get active and fight back, we are lost!