The USDA plans to impose a mandatory identification system called NAIS which is, frankly, Big Brother down on the farm. Radio ID ear tags for all livestock, from llamas to chickens, and specific codes for each farm (even for a backyard chicken coop or horse-lover’s barn). No data demonstrates any value to this system in promoting health or safety.
On March 11, 2009, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry held a hearing on theimplementation the controversial NAIS program. Repeatedly, members of congress cited support for NAIS due to food and animal safety concerns. Since most committee members favored NAIS, the hearing was used to push the USDA to make NAIS mandatory for all livestock. This would include what Republican Rep. Mike Conaway described as farms with “one big fat horse.” Conaway suggested that NAIS is just as important as organic.
Only a third of farmers have registered in the past five years despite heavy pressure. Even children enrolled in Future Farmers of America or 4-H are expected to have their family farms registered with NAIS.
Quoting an Organic Consumer’s Association report on the hearing:
Paul Rozwadowski, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and chair of the National Family Farm Coalition’s Dairy Subcommittee, cited the severe cost burden for family farmers versus the loopholes for industrial livestock operations. “While I would have to separately tag every single one of my 60 cows, factory farm poultry and hog operations are allowed one group ID. This gives them an unfair competitive advantage, so it’s no wonder their lobbyists support it. NFFC also strenuously objects to National Milk Producers Federation once again falsely speaking on behalf of dairy farmers. NFFC’s Dairy Subcommittee, comprised of dairy farmers from across the country, adamantly opposes NAIS, particularly as our dairy prices have collapsed and we struggle for our survival.”
Here’s information on the topic from
National Family Farm Coalitionhttp://www.nffc.net/Pressroom/Press%20Releases/2008/PR%2006.25.08%20School%20Lunch%20and%20NAIS.htm
Organic Consumers Association http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/642/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26665
Here’s yet another letter we have sent to our Senators and Congressman. Please consider sending one of your own.
We live on a small family farm and ask you to act on behalf not only of all farmers but all consumers by voting against any mandatory NAIS bill (coding properties and tracking livestock for USDA purposes).
HR875 and companion Senate S814 are being pushed through Congress, as well as an appropriations bill with funding for NAIS. The proposed changes are not only massively expensive, but outrageous because NAIS has no value in promoting health or safety.
*Although the USDA alleges that NAIS will benefit animal health, basic scientific principles demonstrate the reverse. This program is a disincentive for good animal husbandry.
*NAIS damages food safety. It will not halt food borne illnesses nor prevent the conditions creating these problems, in part because tracking ends at the time of slaughter. Such problems will abate when existing regulations are properly funded and enforced—for example the inspection of imported foods, oversight of slaughterhouses and food processing plants, etc.
*Sustainable farms with practices that boost the health of the land and support local communities are precisely those farms that will be unable to continue under the burden of NAIS requirements. If forced to develop the necessary NAIS database, purchase 840-numbered tags and deal with increased government regulation chances are many more of us would lose the struggle to hang on to our land and animals.
*If implemented, NAIS will increase food costs and substantially decrease the availability of organic, free range and local foods because only agribusiness can afford the Big Brother burden of NAIS.
Please let us know how you plan to vote.