The Government Wants To Know More About Me

Late last year I received something that I didn’t much like in the mail from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. It was a 2006 Agricultural Identification Survey. It was addressed to both Marlene and I.

On the first page of the survey, I read these words: Response to this survey is legally required by title 7, U.S. Code., and This is our second request. Please reply within 10 days, and at the top of the page in bold capital letters: DUE BY JANUARY 29, 2007.

I don’t much like it when a government agency that I have never, to my knowledge, ever had any contact with (and don’t care to have any contact with) sends me a form to fill out and informs me that I must respond. And I especially didn’t like the kind of questions they were asking on their three page survey.

They wanted to know how much land I own, how much I rent, how much I rent out. They wanted to know what kind of land it was. How much woodland. How much pasture. How much crop land. They wanted to know if I grow hay or forage crops. If I grew berries. If I grew potatoes. If I grew vegetable or melon crops. They wanted to know the total storage capacity of all structures used to store whole grains or oilseeds.

They wanted to know the largest number of the following animals on hand at any one time: Cattle & calves, goats & kids, horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, burros, sheep & lambs, hogs & pigs, meat chickens, egg chickens, and turkeys.

They wanted to know if I had an aquaculture operation. They wanted to know how many bee colonies I had and how much honey I harvested in 2006.

They wanted to know about any production contracts I had for livestock or poultry that I did not own. They wanted to know the highest number of hired agriculture workers, including paid family members, on the payroll on any one day.They wanted to know the expected gross value of expected sales for the year.

That’s a general overview. I’m sure you get the idea.

If I went to the government agency with my hand out, looking for a grant or some other such form of government enforced wealth redistribution, I could see them asking such intrusive questions. But that isn’t the case. I’ve never done that. I see the taking of taxpayer money, money that someone else earned, as an immoral act. If the government takes my neighbor's money by the force of law and offers it to me, and I take it, I am a willing participant in the crime. If anyone but government did that sort of thing, they would go to prison.

So, since I'm not asking them for a handout, it’s none of the U.S government’s business how many chickens I own or how many vegetables I grow. This survey as a complete and total violation of my privacy

I don’t even have a farm. But that doesn’t make any difference to them:

Your response to the enclosed questionnaire will help us determine your involvement in agriculture. We are asking you to take time to carefully complete the questions and return the form in the enclosed envelope. We need your completed form even though you may not be actively farming, ranching, or conducting any type of agricultural activity.

And they want me to be sure that I return their survey in the enclose envelope with the Bar Code showing through the window.

Well, this is my response to the USDA.....

No. I refuse to answer your wicked little survey. Leave me alone.

Did anyone else out there receive this survey in the mail?


T. Chan said...

Big Brother, indeed. I wonder what sort of (benign) justification the Federal Government offers for this.

Ethan said...

Just read this today from the book "I'll Take My Stand".

Taken from the chapter called "William Remington - A Study in Individualism".

"He was graduated with two potentially weighty handicaps. The first was some knowledge and appreciation of literature, history, music and the decorative arts. The second was a deeply rooted determination to live his life, in so far as he possessed free agency to control it, on terms dictated by his own critical intelligence, and nothing else. He was no radical reformer, however; he was inclined rather to scoff at the anarchic poets and philosophers of his college class, and to defend the forces of conservatism against their hot onslaughts; he was ready and willing to subscribe to conventions and standards, insisting only upon reminding himself, whenever they became too fantastic in comparison with his self-chosen norm of human experience and common sense, that they were only standards, not revealed religion or natural theology; and he reserved the right to condemn conventions based on any morality not founded solidly in the ethics of human worth.

In a word, he was due for a hard bump. He expected nothing else, for he had been taught what to look for."

Good luck, I'll be first to donate should you find yourself in need of legal assistance.

Lady Of Chaos said...

A post about this was going around on some of the yahoo groups. A person called and asked all sorts of questions about this form. In the end it was decided that no one really had to fill it out and send it in. It's all about finding info out for the NAIS. Which is a big NO NO NO for myself.

I know two people personally who just tossed it in the burn pile as unsolicited junk mail. That was over a year ago for one and a few months ago for the other. No one's come beating down thier doors yet.

These survey's are also done over the phone as well. So, watch for that.

Anonymous said...

yes, we received two surveys due to the fact that the first was burned. We were also called on the phone and refused to anwser the questions--afterward that's when the surveys were mailed. We did answer the questions--in every blank we put NA on the "mark the box" we marked ALL boxes. Now, by "law" we responded but not how they were hoping!!!

Emily said...

No, we haven't gotten one, but if we did, our response would be to "Return to Sender" with MYOB written on the envelope. I assume you have looked this up online? Here's a link I found:
I was wondering where they come up with the names to send their "wicked little survey" to and they vaguely state in the FAQ that it is from a variety of sources. No ties to NAIS either. Uh huh.

Anonymous said...

Presidential Executive Order No.10999 says that in time of emergency the government can take control of the food supply and farms. Guaranteed we are to have an emergency and the government probably will nationalize farms that they know of or at least confiscate the livestock and food.
NAIS premises registration number will always stay with the property. The farmer becomes the stakeholder and the government controls the farm.

Marci said...

We got that same survey Herrick. We threw the first few away. Then we got one with big letters threatening to persecute (or is that prosecute) us if we did not comply. We replied to a few things very vaguely and sent it in.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks everyone for your response and insights.

Ethan... I'll Take My Stand is a great book. And your offer of a donation to my legal defense fund is appreciated. :-)

Emily... Amazingly, I did not look this whole thing up online. Thanks for the link.

I'm glad to see that I am not the only one who "has and attitude" about this form of government intrusion and harassment.

I'd be curious to know the numbers of how many people have refused to cooperate. I'm sure that will be part of the survey results too, though not publically available.

TNfarmgirl said...

I got a similar survey but it might have been from our state - will have to try to find it. Ours was"voluntary". I called and asked a bunch of questions and found that the people in the office didn't really have an understanding as to why they needed to know these personal things.

I essentially told them to MYOB and leave me alone and to take me off of their mailing list! I got another one this year.

I also didn't fill out the census survey that wanted to know how many toilets I had, what time I left for work, what kind of car I drove etc. etc. Constitutionally, I believe it says they have a right to know how many people are living in my home (not their names, ages, etc.) and I answered that question and then wrote across the page..."I respectfully decline to answer these questions since they violate my constitutional rights and are an invasion of privacy."

They sent two different people out to try to convince me - an elderly lady who appealed to me for the sake of genealogy and an intimidating man who I just happened to know, happened to be a Christian, homeschooling Dad....I explained to him why I wouldn't, he left me alone and I never heard another word.....however....I am SURE there is a file on me somewhere!


Anonymous said...

Last time I heard of something like this, it was William of Normandy finding out how many of every sheep, cow, and everything else, the Saxons had, after he conquered England in 1066. they called it the Doomsday book, for obvious reasons. We could call this modern version, the Buttenski Book. They seem to be after the same thing. Every thing you own, is theirs, it seems.

The Bradshaws said...

Yes, Herrick, we received the same mandatory survey - twice. We too will not return the survey.

Granny Miller said...

Herrick we got the same survey - twice.
I wrote RETURN TO SENDER on the outside of the envelope and put it right back into my mailbox.
Around here, NAIS was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
In the past, a lady has come out to our farm to collect information and we have always given it freely.
No more.
Next time she comes out I’m going to politely ask her to leave and never return.
If the USDA, or any other Government Agency wants information about my home and my business they are going to need a subpoena or search warrant.

Barbara said...

I understand the concerns, but is there a better way to assess the state of family farms? As part of a CSA I've read many articles about their decline, and would like to know what references you'd recommend. Is the gov't the only resource with the time and money to accomplish this?

We The People said...

it's about time America wakes up folks i got one of these too and it woke me up even more. I'm already against government intrusion in my personal affairs. if we don't take a stand we should not complain about being trampled. I for one will stand my ground and support anyone else who chooses to be free.Revolution comes to mind can you say George Washington? well you all get the idea here I'm preaching to the choir somewhat I know but it is time to rise up America are we prepared to do that? Hmm? guess we'll find out soon enough.Keep your powder dry!!

Anonymous said...

We have gotten this for years.... on the phone and on paper. Probably tried to fill out the 1st and sent in. That's our problem. Was worded like we were going to the crossbar hotel if we did not comply..........