The following interview between radio host Brandon Turbeville and TAP-NC’s Nicole Revels regarding NC’s backyard chicken owner registration mandate was originally posted to NaturalBlaze.com. Read the entire original article (and listen to a radio interview on the subject) at this link.
Brandon: What is the new Department of Ag policy regarding backyard chickens in NC?
Nicole: Every owner of one of more poultry birds in the state of North Carolina must register their property with the State of North Carolina by obtaining an NC Farm ID. The NC Farm ID program normally operates on a voluntary basis, but due to the avian flu scare being declared an emergency in NC, the Dept. of Ag. has made registration mandatory.
An emergency mandate signed by NC Governor Pat McCrory states:
“Some of these immediate emergency measures would include, but not be limited to:
… 2) Requiring the owner of every premises where poultry is kept to register with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services”
Brandon: Clearly there was referendum regarding this policy so where is it coming from? The Dept? The Governor? The Congress?
Nicole: The policy originated from NC’s Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and his appointed State Veterinarian Doug Meckes. North Carolina’s statutes specify that in order for NC’s Department of Agriculture to adopt a rule, they must follow a process outlined in the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which includes steps such as notifying the public and allowing for public input, justifying the necessity of the rule, and an administrative review of the proposal prior to its adoption. None of that was done in this instance, however, because the Department invoked an exception to the APA by declaring that NC is in a state of agricultural emergency due to the avian flu scare. Per NC statutes, when it is determined that there is a state of emergency, the Agriculture Commissioner and State Veterinarian may adopt mandates with only the Governor’s approval. (reference NCGS 106-399.4)
In summary, the mandate was adopted by 3 people: Steve Troxler, Doug Meckes, and NC Governor Pat McCrory.
Of note is the fact that the emergency mandate was adopted on July 2, bypassing the rule-making process under the justification that a state of emergency does not allow for the time that is required to follow the proper process; however, the mandate was not announced to the public until 20 days after its adoption. Could those 20 days have been used to follow the proper process for rule adoption in order to allow for public input and administrative scrutiny?
Brandon: What is the reason for concern over these new rules?
Nicole: Of central concern is the issue of private property rights. The statute that was invoked for passage of the mandate (106-399.4; sec. d) declares that state agents may enter any property in the state without a warrant, without the burden of proof of probable cause or even reasonable suspicion! The owner of the property is required to cooperate with the inspection. So, having to question whether the State intends to ignore residents’ 4th Amendment protections is a genuine concern. On the Dept. of Ag’s FAQ page they do not exactly alleviate the concern with their response to the question regarding property inspections, which states:
Will you come and inspect my property?
No. We will not do an inspection first before completing your registration.
There is also great concern with the uncertainty relating to what measures may be implemented once backyard chicken owners are located. The emergency mandate signed by Governor McCrory indicates that NC Veterinarian Doug Meckes may take measures further than just those outlined within the emergency order. So if they decide that registration/communication is not enough to adequately “protect” North Carolina flocks, they are pre-authorized to take further measures that are not yet specified. Many have wondered if backyard chicken owners may soon be faced with an order to vaccinate their flock or even to exterminate them. As long as this open-ended mandate remains in effect, all of these scenarios are within the realm of possibility.
Brandon: How do you see this policy, if implemented, affecting the average backyard chicken owner?
Nicole: In general, it is a regulatory burden. Filing forms with the state is a process that most of us would rather not have to deal with, especially in order to engage in an act of self-reliance that poses no danger to others. It feels like we have reached a point in our society in which one must obtain permission from the government in order to do anything, and this is just one more example of something ridiculously simple being attached to additional requirements from Big Brother. Outside of that, it feels as though backyard chicken owners are being targeted for intimidation. It is intimidating to know that if you want to simply own a chicken, you will be placed into a state database. Who wants to be tracked and potentially subjected to a property inspection from the State? There is certainly room to question whether, down the road, this Farm ID registration might come with fees attached in order to process all of the paperwork. It seems like that’s how it always goes, doesn’t it?
Brandon: The Ag Dept first said the policy would be a requirement. Now it is saying the policy is voluntary. What do you make of this shift in rhetoric?
Nicole: It is my belief that the narrative has shifted due to the pushback that they have received from North Carolina residents and the media. So this gives us some cause for rejoice, and we should all know to keep up our opposition because it does have an impact! However, we can only operate under the assumption that what is recorded on paper is what remains in effect, and we cannot feel comfortable with the Department’s verbal assurances that the program will remain voluntary. As long as the mandate is still in effect, we have no assurance. So we must push them to retract the order. The fact that the Department is saying that they intend for it to remain voluntary only lends to our argument that they should formally retract the mandate. If registration is truly meant to operate on a voluntary basis, there is no reason for the mandated “requirement.”
Brandon: Do you believe the policy will truly be voluntary if it is implemented?
Nicole: Currently it is operating on a voluntary basis because the Dept. of Agriculture has not outlined any penalties for non-compliance, so I encourage everyone to refuse to participate. The “voluntary” terms could change at any time, though, as long as the mandate remains in effect.
Brandon: The policy was coming from the NC Dept of Ag but it seems bigger than that. Where is this policy ultimately coming from? Who is really behind this?
Nicole: Some have speculated that campaign contributions from Big Ag. have directed Steve Troxler’s decision making. Others wonder if this directive is coming from the federal government since State Veterinarian Doug Meckes was hired straight from the Department of Homeland Security. It is difficult to say where this idea originated (beyond Troxler and Meckes); my personal observation is that what we are seeing in action today is a larger agenda to take control of the people’s food supply working its way down the chain of command; this is done by large food production corporations and government busy-bodies colluding together to achieve common interests.
Brandon: Do you seen any possible police state implications with this policy? In other words, do you think it will be used for clampdowns on backyard chicken owners, confiscation or killing of bird? Or some other attack on backyard farming and self-sufficiency?
Nicole: The statute invoked to pass this mandate (106-399.4; sec. c) states that “all State agencies and political subdivisions of the State shall cooperate with the implementation of the emergency procedures and measures developed.” This indicates that any state agency police force may be summoned for implementation of the mandate, should Doug Meckes determine that enforcement measures are required.
The senseless nature of the registration mandate leaves room to question whether the actual purpose of the measure is to pave the way for future “depopulation zones.” In other words, if there is a reported case of avian flu, the government might determine that they should exterminate every poultry bird living within a certain radius of the outbreak in order to prevent the spread. In order to do that, they would first need to know where the birds are located (hence registration). The Dept. of Ag., in response to the concerns, has now stated on their FAQ page that they do not intend to establish kill zones. Take that for what it’s worth.
Brandon: Would you say this is part of a larger attack on self-sufficiency and independence in NC?
Nicole: The mandate itself is intimidating; it is reminiscent of being added to a government watch list or something. Now put this in context with the campaign contributions that Steve Troxler has received from the Big Agriculture industry. In other words, as long as there are individuals who are able to produce food independently, there exists a hindrance to factory farms from achieving monopoly status control over the people’s food supply. If it was one’s agenda to eliminate independent food production, determining where the homesteaders are located would be the first step toward that end.
Brandon: What can we do to stop this policy from becoming enacted?
Nicole: At this point we need many people to urge Steve Troxler and Pat McCrory to retract the mandate. It is particularly important to contact the Governor’s office and voice opposition due to the fact that Gov. McCrory has seemingly attempted to hide his participation in the passage of this mandate. It took the assistance of an investigative attorney for us to learn that he had signed the mandate into effect. So we feel that more pressure needs to be applied to his office to demonstrate that we know he has had a major role in this and the Governor needs to take action to rectify the situation.
What you and other media are doing by simply reporting the story to the public is also helping us tremendously. I urge everyone to contact their local media and express opposition. Do not worry about being taken out of context or the story being published in a one-sided manner; the issue is so ridiculous that even the spin doctors are having difficulty portraying this in a positive light.
Brandon: If someone wants to get involved, who would they contact and where can they contact them?
Nicole: On facebook we have a network that is now over 1,400 strong on the page “No to NC Chicken Registration.” That is where we are sharing updates and calls to action. For anyone who is not on facebook and would like to contact me about this issue, they may use the contact form on the Transparency and Accountability Project NC website, which is www.TAPNC.org, or on my own website www.NicoleRevels.com.