Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Letter from Langdon: Surround Sound on NAIS

06/10/2009

nais opponents in Jefferson City Richard Oswald Two opponents of USDA's proposed system of mandatory identification of livestock made the opposition plain in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Tuesday. Hundreds attended the agriculture department's "listening session." NAIS stands for National Animal Identification System. According to USDA, the purposes of the animal tagging program are to increase the United States' disease-response capabilities, limit the spread of animal diseases, minimize animal losses and their economic impact, protect producers' livelihoods, and maintain market access. 

Administered by USDA, NAIS consists of three main phases; first is premises ID, second will be animal ID, and third will be traceability.

NAIS mandates that radio frequency tags (RFID tags) or chips be attached or implanted directly onto commercial livestock. Tags would be read or scanned by "readers" to create a computerized record of every animal -- hog, goat, cow, horse, chicken, turkey, elk, deer, or any other commercially produced livestock.

Some producers, such as dairies, are already using computers to track the movement and production of individual animals. In some cases those existing programs would be in compliance with USDA. In other cases, producers would have to change systems to meet the new law.

As part of the third phase of NAIS -- traceability -- anytime a farm animal leaves its birth premises, the producer would be required to report that movement to USDA within 48 hours.

For a Northwest Missouri beef producer to comply, he or she would first have to apply for a premises ID, then acquire enough radio frequency tags to ID every animal in the herd, and a tag-reader to scan the tags and download their information to a computer. (Conventional numbered ear tags or tattoos are not acceptable under NAIS guidelines.) Then that information would be transferred to an approved animal trace processing system (ATPS) via an internet connection to an animal tracking database (ATD) website.

USDA proposes that there will be several privately run databases. (Databases may be located anywhere, including outside the borders of the United States.) Producers will be required to pay a fee for access to the system.

If a cow leaves the farm to be sold, or taken to the vet for treatment, or moved to a different pasture that's not on the home premises, its movement would have to be reported to NAIS.

Large commercial feedlots would be exempt from individual animal ID requirements, with only one ID number required for all the animals inside.

Producer objections to NAIS involve issues of cost, privacy, and liability. Some producers are worried that meatpackers would transfer liability for bacterial contamination of processed meat  back to the farm of origin. Others see NAIS as a threat to the confidentiality of producer records; they're concerned that foreign governments, packers, or other buyers might gain access to those records for their own benefit. Tags that remain on an animal throughout the supply chain could be scanned, and the data retained by buyers to build a database of a producer's products and values. Some worry that packers might use the information they gain from RFID tags for an unfair advantage.

Marketing advantage was the chief rationale for premises ID when the states began registration several years ago. In the current NAIS proposal, there is no provision that deals with marketing or pricing.

Owners of independent livestock markets are concerned about the bookkeeping and reporting burden NAIS creates for them. Some states have already required FFA members to comply with NAIS before they're allowed to participate in livestock projects.

At the NAIS listening session in Jefferson City on June 9, many groups sent representatives to speak on the proposed tagging regulations. Among them were the following: Missouri Farmers Union, R-CALF USA, Missouri Campaign for Liberty, Arkansas Animal Producers Association, International Dairy Goat Registry, Missouri Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Illinois Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, Ozarks Property Rights Congress. Missouri First Inc., Liberty Restoration Project, Legislators Against Real ID, Missouri Libertarian Party, Missouri Constitution Party, Missouri Rural Crises Center, Citizens for Private Property, and Douglas County Citizens for Liberty.

Also attending were Missouri State Senators Wes Shoemeyer and Chuck Purgason, and Missouri State Representatives Paul Quinn, and Tom Shively.

Only one person from the group of around 300 made positive comments about NAIS and he left before finishing his remarks. Later on, one lady stood up and apologized for heckling him, but not for her viewpoint.

Approximately 50 others testified against it during the three-hour session. Speakers were chosen by drawing numbered tickets. Statements were limited to three minutes.

Still, USDA representatives said that they wanted those present to help implement a system that works well. There was no "if"  -- it was a "when" NAIS is implemented.

 

Below are some of the comments offered by those who took the microphone:

From USDA: "NAIS will be implemented in three phases. First is premise ID, second will be animal ID, and third will be traceability. We need a good system in place to keep our livestock healthy. Registry has no effect on ownership. USDA will not require registration of non-commercial animal production (pets). USDA will not require anyone to violate their religious beliefs; you can have someone tag your animals for you if animal ID violates those beliefs. We want to hear what you tell us."

listening session in Jefferson City on NAIS Richard Oswald More than 200 people -- farmers, ranchers, and representatives of citizens and consumer groups -- turned out in Jefferson City, Missouri, June 9 to alert the USDA to their views on a proposed federal system of mandatory animal tagging.

And hear they did. Here are some comments from Tuesday's listening session:
 
"Keep NAIS voluntary for the benefit of producers."
 
"NAIS will cost nearly $200,000,000 annually."
 
"Stop importing livestock from foreign countries with disease problems."
 
"I enrolled in premise ID for scrapies prevention. Now I can't get out."
 
"We believe USDA has to confront the issue of competition (in markets)"
 
"We need real inspection in slaughter plants."
 
"Foreign produced catfish imported into this country are labeled 'Delta Pride' while our catfish producers are growing algae in their ponds."
 
"If big was better Miss America would weigh 400 pounds."
 
"Moving the animal disease lab from Plum Island, and Foot and Mouth disease, to Kansas? Is that supposed to be food safety? Shame, shame."
 
"Dairymen today are earning $1.87 less per hundred (pounds of milk) than they were in 1980."
 
"We tag our cattle, it's proprietary and we have no need to be part of NAIS."
 
"Where did this thing come from? American Farm Bureau started promoting it in 1994. This thing's been going on for 15 years."
 
"I want no national animal ID system. Scrap the whole thing."
 
"It is not designated to be voluntary."
 
"I consider NAIS to be a violation of my constitutional rights."
 
"Mining of databases (like the one proposed for NAIS) is making hackers millions."
 
"This would be a good place for President Obama to discuss government intervention (in private business)."
 
"Information is power."
 
"I'm a consumer, not a producer. If a producer has to spend more to produce my food, it will cost me more."
 
"I simply will not comply."
 
"Australia has a database like the one proposed here. There are 4 million cattle (phantom cattle) in the Australian database that cannot be accounted for."
 
"Our country was built on the free enterprise system. It should not be changed."
 
"USDA is on the wrong track by burdening producers with this unacceptable program."

Comments

No NAIS

For information about NAIS from the other side of the fence visit NoNAIS.org.

USDA comments

USDA must still think we are idiots to fall for their lies. 

"From USDA: "NAIS will be implemented in three phases. First is premise ID, second will be animal ID, and third will be traceability. We need a good system in place to keep our livestock healthy.
How about the one we've used successfully at our borders up until we signed on with the WTO, and the disease monitoring programs prior to NAIS?

Registry has no effect on ownership.
Registry may not affect livestock ownership, but it will affect real property ownership.

USDA will not require registration of non-commercial animal production (pets).
If non commercial animals are not required to register, then why are they going after homesteaders and horse owners?  The majority of livestock that will be affected by NAIS are strictly for pleasure or personal use.  What these guys really mean is cats and dogs.  They're hoping we don't realize that.

USDA will not require anyone to violate their religious beliefs; you can have someone tag your animals for you if animal ID violates those beliefs. We want to hear what you tell us."
Do these people listen to themselves when they talk? It's OK to violate someone's religion if you do it for them???  This is like telling someone to shut up because you'll speak for them, or telling reporters you'll give them all the news they need to print.

will they really be safer from disease?

I read the reports and have seen videos on youtube of the listening sessions being held across the US...the people are overwhelmingly against NAIS!  The few for it, who are the big producers who will get one lot number per groups of animals while the rest of us have to tag and track every single animal we own,  state we need it for the rapid traceback for finding disease I would like to ask this question "Do you really feel your pork or cattle raised in lots in the Dakotas or wherever  are much safer from disease because I told the govt when and where I rode my horse in Texas?!?!?!?"

NAIS Is Unacceptable

NAIS is nothing more than more governmental control on those who require it least--small farmers, consumers, and producers. The problem with contamination and low-quality product does not reside in the heartland, with local producers. It resides with our heavy importation of foreign product, and on loose regulation of large corporate producers. My, or any other farmer's cattle will not obtain or transmit a detrimental disease in the time it takes for me to move them from one pasture to another. In turn, if NAIS is only going to require large feedlots to have one ID number, how will that track diseased individuals in the greater population? It won't. As I said before, the issue of disease and low-quality product lies with large, confined feeding operations, which are most conducive to disease and mass-produce their product. In this situation, the government is not helping and will not help the smaller, self-employed farmers and ranchers that have been producing quality products since the birth of our nation. They are favoring the large, wealthy corporate producers and leaving we "little guys" in the dust. I will sell my cattle before I join NAIS. I would lose money from it. I would also lose part of my freedom, my farming heritage, and my livelihood.

I call on every farmer and rancher to oppose the NAIS system, and its impending attacks on our privacy, production, and well-being, for it is unacceptable, and will ruin a vital part of American agriculture.

NAIS just more pork for the special interests

You folks shuld read John Pugsley's "The Alpha Strategy." In it, he describes how government regulation of anything is bad for commerce, and points out how the driving force behind any move like NAIS is some special interest who will benefit from it. In this case, the large producers are the driving force, and it's purpose is to burden the small producer.

Other examples are the car seat and safety belt laws, which weren't lobbied for by automobile owners and parents, but insurance companies who paid the claims for damages and injuries. Regulation is always pitched as protecting the average citizen, but it never does. If it did, the FDA would be working to block bad drugs instead of promote them, the USDA would be trying to help farmers instead of choking the to death with bureaucratic red tape, and the both the Immigration and Naturalization service and the Drug Enforcement Agency would have more armed agents than the Internal Revenue Service (combined, the two have about 1/14 as many agents as the IRS).

American's need to wake up to the fact that the special interests have figured out how to use "the dark side of democracy" to exert force on their competitors or we are never going to dig ourselves out of this hole.