A 100-group coalition – in a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a separate letter to Congress – is urging that the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) be dissolved completely and that all 100 organizations look forward to working with USDA “…to enhance our nation’s animal disease preparedness in a manner that builds upon our past successes and respects the interests of U.S. livestock producers and consumers.”
The letter to Congress asks members of the House and Senate to “…support the limited use of NAIS funding to shut down the program, and to refocus the agency on measures that truly improve animal health and that respect the interests of both livestock owners and consumers.”
In the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Congress reduced NAIS funding to $5.3 million, but did not specify how those funds were to be allocated.
“We respectfully request that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognize the fundamental flaws in NAIS and the public opposition to the program, and not use the $5.3 million appropriated for NAIS to further advance, in any way, this program,” states the letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Instead, the 100 groups recommend that USDA expressly limit the use of the funds to:
1) Formally withdraw all pending rulemaking initiated by the agency to advance NAIS and pay the associated costs;
2) Pay all existing contractual obligations and NAIS-related costs that USDA incurred prior to Sept. 30, 2009;
3) Pay all costs associated with transferring the computer hardware acquired by USDA as part of NAIS to state animal health agencies, to enable state agencies to improve their ability to communicate among agencies in the event of a disease outbreak; and,
4) Pay all costs associated with providing the people of the United States and Congress with an official, comprehensive report on all of the testimony USDA received at each of the NAIS listening sessions held throughout the country in 2009.
“We urge this course of action because, contrary to its stated purposes, NAIS will not address animal disease or food safety problems,” the letter to Congress states. “Instead, NAIS imposes high costs and paperwork burdens on family farmers and creates incentives for corporate-controlled confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and vertically integrated systems. This ill-conceived and badly implemented program should be halted.”
Here are just a few of the reasons that NAIS is fundamentally flawed: 1) no food safety benefits; 2) no analysis or quantification of the alleged benefits; 3) unfair burdens placed on family farms and sustainable livestock operations; and, 4) high costs.
The 100 signors to the two letters include: Acres USA; Adopt a Farm Family; American Goat Society; American Grassfed Assn.; American Indian Horse Registry; American Policy Center; American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Assn.; Arkansas Animal Producers Assn.; Bluebonnet Equine Human Society; California Farmers Union; Carolina Farm Stewardship Assn.; Cattlemen’s Texas Longhorn Registry; Chez Panisse; Citizens for Private Property Rights (Mo.); Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Assn.; Community Farm Alliance (Ky.); Constitutional Alliance; The Cornucopia Institute; Dakota Resource Council; Dakota Rural Action; Davis Mountain Trans Pecos Heritage Assn. (Texas); Edible Austin; Edible San Marcos (Texas); Empire State Family Farm Alliance (N.Y.); Equus Survival Trust; Fair Food ! Matters (Mich.); Family Farm Defenders; Farm Aid; Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance; Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund; Farmers Union of Adams County (N.D.); Food & Water Watch; Food for Maine’s Future; Freedom 21; Gun Owners of America; Idaho Rural Council; Independent Cattlemen of Iowa; Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska; Independent Beef Assn. of North Dakota; Innovative Farmers of Ohio; International Texas Longhorn Assn.; Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; Kansas Cattlemen’s Assn.; Land Stewardship Project (Minn.); Local Harvest; Main Alternative Agriculture Assn.; Main Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn.; Marshall County Citizens for Property Rights (Ala.); Massachusetts Smallholders Alliance; Michigan Farmers Union; Michigan Land Trustees; Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance; Mississippi Livestock Markets Assn.; Missouri Rural Crisis Center; Missourians for Local Control; Monroe/LaCrosse County Farmers Union (Wis.); Montana Cattlemen’s Assn.; Montana Farmers Union; National Association of Farm Animal Welfare; National Famil y Farm Coalition; Nat’l. Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Assn.; Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society; North Carolina Contract Poultry Growers Assn.; Northeast Organic Farming Assn. (Conn.); Northeast Organic Farming Assn. (Mass.); Northeast Organic Farming Assn. (N.H.); Northeast Organic Farming Assn. (N.Y.); Northeast Organic Farming Assn. (Vt.); Northeast Organic Farming Assn. Interstate Council; Northern Illinois Draft Horse and Mule Assn.; Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Assn.; Northern Plains Resource Council (Mont.); Ohio Farmers Union; Oregon Livestock Producers Assn.; Oregon Rural Action; Organic Consumers Assn.; Organization for Competitive Markets; Ozarks Property Rights Congress (Mo.); Paso Fino Horse Assn.; Powder River Basin Resource Council (Wyo.); Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pa.); Property Rights Congress; R-CALF USA; Regional Farm and Food Project (N.Y.); Rocky Mountain Farmers Union; Secure Arkansas; Small Farmer’s Journal; Small Farms Conse! rvancy; South Dakota Stockgrowers Assn.; Sovereignty International; Stop Real ID Coalition; Sustainable Food Center (Texas); Texas Landowners Council; Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn.; US Boer Goat Assn.; Virginia Independent Consumers & Farmers Assn.; Virginia Land Rights Coalition; Western Organization of Resource Councils; Weston A. Price Foundation; and, Wintergarden Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (Texas).
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com, or call 406-252-2516.