For several years the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been promoting a program called NAIS, the National Animal Identification System. The program has as its centerpiece the insertion of a RFID chip into every animal located on a farm, moving between farms or that have ever seen a farm on a trip to any part of America.
"We basically thought we wanted a RFID chip in every cow, pig, chicken or dog in America," said a department spokesman. Although we have working systems that already track disease and animal ownership, it just seemed like a really cool hi-tech way to count animals."
"The bird flu idea belonged to the drug companies, but it gave us another reason to press on with getting those chips installed. Of course, as soon as we tried to chip the wild birds like crows or Herons, we discovered a guy could get hurt doing this."
Of course, we expected the farmers to pay for the program because they have always been dumb enough to work for free anyway," he noted.
Recently however, the program has met with national resistance because not only the farming community but also pet owners, civil libertarians and some churches see this level of government coercion as a violation of basic civil rights.
"George Orwell would be really proud of what these guys have done and the way they are pretending not to do it," said an ACLU speaker.
For the most part, the public remains unaware of the program, except for those few unfortunate individuals who have bitten down on a "spicy chicken wing" and felt the metallic crunch of a RFID.
But enough protest has reached Washington that the USDA has decided to change its tact.
"Hey, we know we made a mistake by reaching too far with this one," said a USDA official, "but the commodity brokers and our friends at ADM said we owed them one."
"Not to worry," he continued. We are changing the focus. We figure if we can't get all these chips into the chickens, we can get them into the illegal aliens. Then maybe INS will be able to find them."