SALEM, Ohio — Eleven agricultural groups from across the U.S. have asked Congress to block the advancement of USDA’s National Animal Identification System.
On July 23, the groups sent formal correspondence to leaders of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The correspondence asked the leaders to halt the development of NAIS and requested an oversight hearing to “carefully and deliberately investigate the full ramifications of USDA’s NAIS-related actions and proposals,” according to information from R-CALF USA, one of the groups requesting the block.
Other groups involved in the matter are the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, Independent Cattlemen of Iowa, Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming, Buckeye Quality Beef Association, Oregon Livestock Producers Association, Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association, Kansas Cattlemen’s Association, Independent Beef Association of North Dakota and the Cornucopia Institute.
Max Thornsberry, R-CALF USA president, said USDA has advanced and implemented NAIS in ways that are “improper, if not outright unlawful.” He called the National Animal Identification System an “unproven, questionable and potentially cost-prohibitive” program.
Right now, participation in the National Animal Identification System is completely voluntary.
Another point of view
But other agricultural leaders say the program is worthwhile, if not necessary, in terms of disease traceability.
Robert Fourdraine, vice chairman of the board of directors at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, said an identification system allows authorities to respond quickly in the event of a disease outbreak.
If NAIS is blocked and that ability is lost, Fourdraine said the results could be ugly.
“It really exposes a huge risk to the livestock industry, in my mind,” he said.
Fourdraine said NAIS has already been through many Congressional hearings, and while there may be ways to improve the system, “getting rid of it would be a very bad thing, especially right now.”
The 11 groups asking Congress to halt advancement of NAIS say the system is flawed and cite issues like privacy and the cost of implementation.
Information from R-CALF USA indicated that lawmakers in Nebraska, Kentucky, Arizona and Missouri have passed legislation to prevent government-sanctioned animal identification in those states.