Browsing Posts tagged NAIS

By Tamrah Jo Ortiz

Thanks to my good friends on Facebook, I was alerted that the ugly head of the government is once again poking its’ large and obnoxious nose into places it doesn’t belong. Yes, I realize this is a inflammatory statement, hence, my writing here, instead of posting this as a comment at the www.opencongress.org website. (which, if you’d like, you can visit and look at the hoopla going on over various bills.)

So, let’s take a look at each of these and try to make sense of them.

NAIS – The National Animal Identification System. In brief, this idea is supposedly born of the desire to quickly identify and destroy animals that pose a threat to both food supply and our existence. (mad cow disease, avian bird flu, anyone?)

What is not so clear is how anyone thinks any of this will really work. Number 1, the folks that want to implement this currently employ thousands to audit tax returns and apparently have not been successful in creating a database or secure electronic means of verifying taxes or conducting a paperless census (which, by the way, we filled out, returned and apparently was ‘lost’ as a census person showed up at my house saying they didn’t get ours. On the flip side, my mom got 2 censuses to fill out and a friend never received any….)

Now, if these folks have not centralized, streamlined and made efficient the operations they have been in charge of for decades, how in the world are we to believe they can implement this kind of system and let us know about diseased food within 20 years of our consumption of it?

Number 2 – current figures show that given the ‘requirements’ of the system, most of the costs will fall on the small farmers and ranchers – courtesy of Wikipedia is the following:

“The costs of becoming NAIS compliant for a U.S. beef producer were found to be a minimum of $2.08 a head for large producers and as much as $17.56 a head for smaller operations, with an estimated average cost to cow/calf producers of $6.26 per animal, according to research by Christopher Raphael Crosby of Kansan State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics published in 2008.”

Does anyone hear “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”?

Number 3 – Historically, outbreaks of disease occur in close population, improperly nourished animals. Farmer John who has 15 head of cattle and 160 acres of pasture does not face the same challenges as Mr. Beef, who has crammed 5,000 cows into a feedlot the size of a Wal-mart parking lot, where calves play on hills of cow patties and drink milk produced from the ingestion of soybean and corn meal (when cows have evolved to do just fine, thank you very much, on grass.)

Plus, Farmer John really depends on his herd for his food, to feed his family and perhaps a neighbor or two and to bring in some extra cash to pay the ever-increasing cost of living expenses. So he has a HUGE investment in making sure his herd is healthy and well-nourished. The loss of even one cow can make or break him.

Mr. Beef can depend on tax breaks, an adjustment of market prices, government bailouts, etc, if he somehow manages to lose his herd to disease. So who do you think takes better care of their herd?

On to the next – Codex Alimentarius – Proponents will tell you it’s an international effort to ensure the safety of food for all – as well as to keep me from accidently killing myself from taking too much Vitamin C.

Again, these efforts are brought to you by folks who can’t even balance their own budgets and settle disputes among themselves in a peaceful manner. Do you really think they know how much Vitamin C I can handle and furthermore, if I were receiving nutritious food, would I even need a supplement? If they are so invested in “Nutritious, Safe Food to further the health and well-being of the populace” then why did they ignore the published findings of biochemist Dr. Mary Enig in the 70’s, who warned of the dangers of trans-fats and hydrogenated fats to the human body? Um, no, took about 40 years before they figured that one out (if they even have yet……………)

I also find it interesting that many countries within the World Effort of this measure are ARDENTLY opposed to GMO foods and have been very insistent on pushing for foods containing those types of ingredients to be Labeled. Those who have a vested interest in controlling both seed and food supplies, by getting ‘patents’ on their genetically modified seeds and plants have kept up the pressure and keep taking a run at getting that ‘pesky little nuisance’ of required labeling for GMO foods buried under the rug.

All in all, I cannot see the reasoning for extending all this effort on the Codex other than for countries who take their food and health seriously to put up a ‘fence’ to keep those exports out from countries that do not. (meaning, US)

So with the history of these two long-running dramas, I now come to the most recent – Senate Bill S510.

Innocuously titled, “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act”, it lists high-sounding ideals and includes some of the following:

food facility re-inspection (um…I worked as a waitress for 12 years, I can tell you, restaurants get inspected every year……)
food recalls (aren’t they already allowed to do that?)
a voluntary qualified importer program (have these people never heard of eating locally?)
So those violently opposed to this bill read it and see how easily seed and food control could be placed in the hands of those who have no business telling us what we can grow or eat, share with our neighbors or sell at the local farmer’s market. And I agree with them to a point; while the bill does not specifically state any of these intents, the large generalized points of it are open to all kinds of interpretations.

History tells me the interpreters will translate it for the benefit of themselves, their agency budget and their large campaign contributors (corporations) before they will for my health and well being.

Again, if you look to history, deaths and illness related to the consumption of contaminated, diseased foods, has been linked to large corporate mono-culture farms, not the small local producers. Why? Well, because the small local producer not only feeds you, but their own family. They don’t have the time or the energy (or the insanity) to grow one garden with ‘good stuff’ for their family and another with ‘questionable stuff’ to sell at the local market.

In addition, if I get ‘bad food’ at the local farmer’s market, I know exactly who to go to with my accusations. When large farms put out questionable produce, it has also traveled through one or more broker warehouses, a packaging plant or two, the transportation gamut….on and on and its’ so easy to pass the buck on who exactly is to blame.

I’m also curious as to why Homeland Security is one of the committees listed on the bill’s information page. What, are they afraid terrorists are going to send us toxic bananas? Newsflash, if everyone ate organic and locally, this fear would be laughable. And I can tell you, any terrorist shows up at our local farmers market with evil intent on his mind, I can guarantee there are enough ‘rednecks’ around here that are just waiting for an opportunity to show the world what real Homeland Security looks like.

I also wonder just where they are going to get the money to implement all this when they are already crying about ‘deficits’ and ‘budget cuts’. To my mind, this has less to do with feeding the nation safely and more to do with feeding the oversized monster we call our government, as well as nudging out any competition to the large centralized food companies.

Implementation, testing and compliance enforcement take money – and that money will come from those who want to ‘buy into the market’ (meaning smaller operations won’t be able to afford to be in the market) – but most of the money will come from you and me, the consumer. What? You don’t think so? Just who do you think is paying for the Tobacco Company Settlements? It isn’t the companies or the government, its’ the consumers. But I’ll leave that debate for another time.

The legislation listed above can only make sense in a climate of fear. They can only pass when we blindly believe the government is really trying to protect us. When we believe that death is more heinous than liberty. (Oh where is Patrick Henry when you need him?)

Quit looking to the government to save you from harm. Know those who grow your food. Have a relationship. Trust me, they are much more invested in your health and well being than the FDA is. Because without you, they don’t have a livelihood. The FDA and government don’t either, but they have forgotten.

Remind them.

An electronic animal ID system has been the passion of USDA for over 18 years. Recently, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that hot iron branding was an acceptable form of future animal ID.

History completely agrees with the secretary’s findings.

Branding History

The western cowboy did not invent hot iron branding. The documented history of branding goes back for thousands of years. Scenes of oxen being branded on hieroglyphics are depicted on Egyptian tombs as early as 2,700 BC.

Hot Iron BrandingHot iron branding animal ID, for proof of title, has not changed for over 5,000 years. The book of Zechariah records this process in chapter 3 verse 2, “a brand plucked out of the fire.”

On a darker side of history, the use of a hot iron as proof of ownership went beyond cattle to an area people today prefer not to think about, the ID branding of human beings. From days of the ancient Greeks, Arabians, Romans and Egyptians, slaves were often marked as property with a small brand by their owner. The practice has continued in slave owning countries around the world. More recently branding has been used on prisoners and self branding which is termed “art branding” or “scarification.”

Hernando Cortez is credited with bringing the first branding irons to the Americas in 1541. His personal holding brand was three crosses.

Branding became common in the US after the Civil War. Eventually, in Canada, the second session of the Northwest Territories government on August 1, 1878 established a law requiring all livestock to be branded.

Brands of every shape and design were visible on every Longhorn that came out of Texas during the great trail drives. Spanish brands are often artistically designed with cursive, complicated circular characters. The western American ranchers chose simpler block and open shapes, which proved harder to alter and easier to read.

Designing a Personal Brand

Designs and names of brands are as colorful as the people who use them. The traditions and pride of ownership attached to brands is a volume in itself.

Selecting a brand can be a simple thing or as detailed and historically meaningful as the owner desires. Most brands are based on the owner’s or the ranch’s initials. They may be a symbol, letter, number, character or combinations of connected or separate figures. A brand symbol, for example, may be a hat, fish, pitch fork, shovel, hook, bell, spur, staple, horse shoe, or wine glass. The list goes on.

Brands are read like books from top to bottom and from left to right. Without a doubt, it is a historical, respected, language all it’s own.

A branding iron should be of quarter-inch clean iron made to the desired shape. Small cattle should be branded with irons about 3″ tall and larger adult stock can be about 4.”

A horse iron can be as small as 2″.

The handle should be about thirty inches long with an end grip holding device. When applied to stock, separate letters should be at least one inch apart so as not to appear attached.

Notches or “breaks” are necessary on all irons where the bars join or intersect, about 1/4″ to 3/8″ wide. This prevents blotching in the corners. Letters like the top point of an A are particularly prone to blotch and always should be left open. Letters like L, C, U, I, J, S and open shapes yield themselves to clean readable brands.

Holding Brand Registration

No ownership holding brand should be applied until legally registered. Registration is done in most states through the Dept. of Agriculture. A brand design is submitted for approval and recorded for a set fee, and only the recorded owner of that design can legally use it on their livestock.

No two brands will be registered that are, or appear to be, the same design. In the eastern U.S. many states only have a few hundred registered brands, so it is easy to acquire a simple, clean brand.

Colorado, on the other hand, has registered over 60,000 brands making it difficult to get a new brand with less than 4 letters. Texas, not to be outdone, claims over 230,000 registered brands on the books.

Code Brand Records

Simple brand codes may reveal to the owner information like pedigrees, year of birth, or ranch division where born. In order to keep the brand process simple and requiring minimal time to apply, fewer letters are always better.

A single number indicating the year of birth is quite often used. The current year 2010 would be “0”. At a glance the owner can easily know the year of birth. The year code can be part of the regular numbering system, over, under, in front of, or beyond the animal ID brand number. Brands are simple and can be recorded on a paper tablet providing a permanent record that lives well beyond the life of the animal. The numbering process is practiced by most ranches providing a non duplicate ID for every animal traceable through the records of USDA through the state brand registration system.

Confinement

Successfully applying a clear distinct ID brand requires the recipient to be still. In the open range, cattle were roped and laid on the ground for branding. Some of the best clear brands are done this way.

The same process can be used in a small herd where the critter is physically laid down, not on the open range, but in a back yard corral. This is recommended for young calves, and not adults.

When adult cattle are branded, a metal squeeze chute is safe and efficient. The side squeeze chutes eliminate the head catch and restrain the critter better from head swinging. This provides safer name tagging, vapor tagging, and OCV tattoos. Plus, the side swing confinements are always the safest for releasing an animal from either side. A general purpose chute sells for $1250 to $2500.

Animal Safety/Care

All processes in cattle care should be bloodless. Although tags and pins are numerous, each tag entry can puncture arteries, hide, muscles and pierce major ear cartilage, which always bleeds. With bleeding can come infection, insect attraction, irritation, or partial loss of hearing and ear function.

The searing process of branding should never draw blood and is self sealing. It becomes a permanent ID in seconds and no medication should be needed in the future.

State Brand Laws

Secretary Vilsack has wisely acknowledged the State Brand Inspection Systems (SBIS) are good animal ID. From the Mississippi west every state has brand laws and inspection procedures, with some dating well over a hundred years old — well tested by time. Branding is economical and a system currently in use by nearly every major cattle raiser. It doesn’t require more fees, expanded USDA staff, computer education, high tech equipment purchases (not proven to perform under range conditions) or pernicious enforcement fines. The old brand laws work for all the right reasons. Last year SBIS visually inspected and documented 27,000,000 cattle according to James Clement, DVM. (See Animal ID, Another View)

Heating the Irons

More irons have been heated with wood than any other way. A hot wood fire serves the purpose well. Today most people are in a hurry and use either electric irons or heat with propane. A small propane bottle will heat a lot of irons and may be transported easily without the limitations of an electric cord.

The iron, when heated properly, should appear a light ash color. An iron heated in a flame will first accumulate carbon and appear very black. A black iron is too cold. It may be hot enough to burn or singe the hair, but not hot enough to penetrate the roots of the hair follicles, essential for a permanent mark.

Red hot, yellow, or white irons should be cooled before use. A red hot iron may brand too fast. The beauty of clear clean brands comes with experience.

Applying the Brand

It is impossible to make a rule for the length of time the iron should be held to the hide, because the condition of the hair and the temperature vary.

To apply the brand, move the handle in a slow, rocking motion which will vary the pressure. A critter is not a flat surface so a flat iron may not clearly mark at all corners. It is better to remove the iron after a couple of seconds, check the mark and reapply the iron to the parts not adequately branded. Always error on the light side rather than over doing the time and pressure.

With the first brand effort, test the result. Hand rub the brand and briskly remove the charred hair. If the animal has been properly branded, a clear outline mark of the complete brand will have a saddle leather light rust color to it.

On the other hand, if the iron was not hot enough, only the hair will be burned and short partially branded hair will be in the brand design. Re-heat and place the iron exactly on the same spot and allow additional time.

When branding is complete, a generous rub with bacon grease using a paint mitten will promptly soothe and lubricate the hide.

An adult steer has hide 10 times thicker than a human. A good brand only enters about one tenth into the total thickness of the hide. Penetration of the skin’s epidermis outer layer is the goal of a correct brand. Correct placement is below the hair and above the dermis tissue.

In Europe numerous ear tag computer methods are used. Year by year more electronic ear devices become mandatory, attached at birth. (calf already has 4 tags - required by law)

In Europe numerous ear tag computer methods are used. Year by year more electronic ear devices become mandatory, attached at birth. (calf already has 4 tags - required by law)

What is the Real Reason?

Proof of title is the historic reason for a brand. It has worked for over 5,000 years. It is the best permanent ID for an owner’s records. Permanent fire brand ID not only works on a live animal, but continues to be a valid ID on the hide after processing. Unfortunately, there are always unscrupulous people who want to steal or “rustle” livestock. In the fifth century BC, I Chronicles 7-21 records that the whole family of Ephraim was killed for “trying” to rustle cattle.

Modern cattle rustlers, which are numerous, truly love the current highly promoted electronic ID. Any cattle rustler can easily remove, replace, change tags and electronic pins. To speed up the process rustlers order a Tag-Sav-R Ear Tag Remover from Nasco for $25.75. Nasco Tag-Sav_RThis jiffy Safety Tag Knifetool was developed to back-out the pin arrow and allow a person to replace it into another animal. It only takes a couple seconds on most pins. If $25.75 cost too much, Nasco has a more affordable Safety Tag Knife for $3.95, cut those unsightly tags out and throw them away.

To think the 840 pins are legal ID or even correct source verification is absurd.

When a rustler is in a hurry to haul-out, it only takes a second to cut the whole ear tip off. That is not a permanent animal ID — ask any successful cattle rustler.

Special TSCRA Ranger Scott Williamson, who is working on several rustling cases in Texas says, “It is a great deal easier in court when stolen animals are fire branded. Prosecutors prefer to try cases where the animals have been branded. If you can prove to the prosecutor that he’s going to be able to absolutely identify an animal in court, he knows he’s not sticking his neck out to take the case.”

No type of animal ear ID has ever held up in court for a conviction, except a hide fire brand.

Every major cattle producing nation on earth uses fire brands. The permanence and stability of a fire brand is superior to all other ID methods including the old “brite” USDA tags that are being newly promoted for AIS.

So, after the smoke and the dust are settled, and all the government listening NAIS sessions are over, trust your neighbors — but fire brand your cattle!

05-24-2010 6:40 pm – Derry Brownfield

Derry Brownfield, legendary cattleman, rancher and talk radio host, is heard daily across America bringing his common sense approach to listeners. The farmers' champion and a passionate constitutionalist, Derry takes on big government, mega-corporations, and environmental extremists. From the stock market to the stock yards, from greedy oil companies to the everyday concerns of his loyal audience, no topic is too hot to handle for Derry, who is called "the voice of the heartland". Born during the Great Depression, Derry says we would all be better off if we applied what he learned at a tender age: The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm!

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says it plans to drop the program called the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). I’ve been studying the antics of Washington bureaucrats for 50 years and I know this is just another ploy to give farmers and ranchers a feeling of security, when all the while they are in the process of coming back with a much more draconian plan. The name has been changed and descriptive words have been eliminated and replaced with other objectives, but government continues to push towards turning the control of our livestock industry over to the multinational meat packers. The coyotes howl along the trail but the wagons keep rolling along.

The USDA has only put a new saddle on the same old horse. The program is no longer called NAIS, the new name is “ANIMAL DISEASE TRACEABILITY FRAMEWORK.”

The original document explaining NAIS consisted of 1200 pages, while this new version on traceability is only 7 pages of questions and answers. Our government is doing everything within its power to force this plan upon us in order to be in compliance with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). We are being told this new plan will be a kinder, gentler state-run program; however we will still have premise registration, although the word PREMISE has been changed to “UNIQUE LOCATION IDENTIFIER.”

The government is also trying to force sale-barns to tag all cows with the “840” tags. “840” indicates the animal originated in the United States. This is to keep us in compliance with the OIE. The United States is no longer in charge of its own policies, rather we are obliged to follow directives of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), including the Codex Alimentarius and the International Plant Protection Convention. These are all agencies of the United Nations.

I have not researched other states, but in Missouri the State Veterinarian’s office began coercing sale-barn owners to attach “840” tags in all cows going through their facilities. Russell Wood states: “This is nothing but a back door approach to NAIS PREMISE registration. This sale-barn approach was an obvious attempt to assign PREMISE numbers to unsuspecting sellers and buyers whether they wanted to join the “VOLUNTARY” program or not. Missouri has a law stating: “The State Department of Agriculture is prohibited from mandating NAIS PREMISE registration on Missouri livestock producers.” By changing the name of the program from NAIS to “ANIMAL DISEASE TRACEABILITY FRAMEWORK” and changing “PREMISES” to “UNIQUE LOCATION IDENTIFIER” the law apparently becomes void.”

In December, some Missouri sale-barns began using the NAIS tags. The barn owners said they had been instructed by the Missouri Department of Agriculture to apply these “840” tags to every cow unloaded at the sale barn. After showing them the law prohibiting the state from doing what they had enticed the barn owners to do, a hearing was held in the State Capital to see if the State Veterinarian was abiding by Missouri law. The Missouri State Veterinarian, Taylor Woods, testified that they had no official written policy on the use of the “840” tags. The state officials had no jurisdiction over the barn owners and was pushing the United Nation’s agenda through intimidation.

We have been told by government officials that this new approach is going to eliminate any producer that does not have livestock going into interstate commerce. Except for Kansas, Nebraska, and perhaps Colorado, practically all cattle born in the state move across state lines. Missouri for example has one of the largest mother cow herds in the nation – but has no feedlot or slaughter facilities, so about 100% of the calves born in Missouri eventually cross state lines.

To understand why the USDA is pushing the “Interstate Commerce Clause” let’s understand the 1942 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Wickard vs Filburn. Claude Wickard was the Secretary of Agriculture at that time and Roscoe Filburn was a wheat grower. Under FDR’s NEW DEAL farmers were allowed to sell a certain amount of wheat. Filburn grew more wheat than he was allowed to market in Interstate Commerce, so the wheat produced in excess of his quota he fed to his livestock. Filburn was found guilty of violating the Interstate Commerce Clause because he fed the wheat to his own livestock; wheat that he had produced on his own land.

Wickard assessed a penalty against him but Filburn refused to pay. The Supreme Court ruled against Filburn saying: “If he had not fed the wheat to his livestock he would have been forced to purchase wheat for livestock feed, and that wheat would have crossed state lines, therefore he was involved in Interstate Commerce.” Based upon these facts, if this new “DISEASE TRACEABILITY” plan goes into effect and a farmer butchers his own calf, he is in violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause. Had he not butchered his own calf, he would have been forced to go to the market and buy beef which has crossed state lines.

Do you see the restraints big government is trying to place on animal agriculture? Even a local organic farmer, selling produce at a local Farmer’s Market, would be in violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause.

Big Agribusiness has taken control of the poultry and egg industry, the pork and milk industries; and if this new and improved DISEASE TRACEABILITY plan becomes law, everything a consumer purchases at the meat and dairy counter will be controlled by no more than a half-dozen large Agribusiness corporations. Our food supply, as we know it, will be a thing of the past.

(c) 2010 Derry Brownfield – All Rights Reserved

By: Doreen Hannes

Doreen HannesBio

Doreen Hannes is the Director of Research for the National
Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA)
and is dedicated to weeding through the lies, half truths, and mis- and disinformation to
help people to understand the methods and propaganda being used to manipulate us….and to dig for the truth. As -civil-ization is predicated upon agriculture, the goal of those who would be our masters is to control the land, control the food, and thereby control the people….otherwise known as the global implementation of  Agenda 21. If we lose our ability to feed ourselves, we will not be able to fight against anything else. Doreen blogs at Truth
Farmer
and you can listen to her radio show, Truth Farmer, at Liberty News Radio and read her articles at News with Views.

On May 11th, the USDA held the first of three public meetings on their “New
NAIS” program “Animal Disease Traceability”. The meeting began
at 8am with three power point presentations. California State Veterinarian,
Dr. Richard Breitmeyer gave the first presentation. This was the same presentation
he gave at the mid-March NIAA (National Institute of Animal Agriculture) meeting,
also held in Kansas City.

A little history is in order to understand the progression of this idea
for animal traceability. In the US, the first notable plan for identifying
animals was the NFAIP, along with FAIR, those being the National Farm Animal
Identification Program and Farm Animal Identification and Records. Then under
the Bush Administration there was the United States Animal Identification
Plan, with the NAIS, National Animal Identification System hot on it’s heels.
Now, they have “killed” NAIS, but are moving forward with the Animal
Disease Traceability plan, the ADT. The main difference here is that the USDA
is going to make a rule on the ADT to prescribe the “performance standards” for
traceability that the states MUST meet to engage in interstate commerce with
the ADT.

Breitmeyer’s presentation focused on the difficulties around tracing the
contacts of tubercular (and suspect) cattle in the state of California and
other states without the aid of an interoperable database covering all animals
and all movements. According to his presentation, the state of California
has approximately 57,500 known live cattle imports from Mexico per year. This
is significant in that more than 75% of all tuberculosis in cattle is of Mexican
origin. Breitmeyer lamented that when he began as a vet 25 years ago, the
US had nearly eliminated TB except for in small areas of northern Michigan
and northern Minnesota where the soil make up continues to keep TB in the
wildlife and therefore occasionally in cattle. Breitmeyer’s presentation was
actually quite a good illustration of many of the failed policies of the USDA
in disease control, the lack of quarantine at the borders chief among them.
Of course, he is a proponent of a NAIS style system because having all that
data available would make his job easier…At least on paper.

The second presentation was given by a very soft-spoken APHIS/VS (Veternary
Services) representative, Dr. TJ Mayer. He stressed that the “theme” for
the development of the “new” program is “collaboration”.
Those to be affected must be involved in the process of developing the solution
for the lack of traceability that now exists— particularly in cattle. Cattle
are the primary focus for this new plan, and the methodology for bringing
cattle to 95% traceability back to the point of identification in 2 business
days is dependent on “collaboration” in developing the processes
in our states. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Mayer also illustrated that
the desired traceability would be implemented gradually through partnerships
of stakeholders and building upon the requirements outlined in the rule that
is to be developed for criteria that states must meet for interstate commerce.

The third presentation was by Becky Brewer (Oklahoma State Vet) and the
apparent lead member of the newly established “Regulatory Working Group”.
Dr. Brewer related the thinking of the Regulatory Working Group on the measurable
outcomes of the ‘traceability’ standards to arrive at 95% of “all” animals
traced back to the ‘traceability unit’ within 2 business days. Sounds just
like the NAIS Business Plan, doesn’t it? Brewer stated, “In government
speak, “all” doesn’t mean all.” This may explain why the USDA
kept insisting that when opponents of NAIS cited documents verbatim, we were “spreading
misinformation”. Evidently the English language is a linguistic and statistical
anomaly in the hands and mouths of bureaucrats.

There were no question and answer sessions after the presentations. Instead
every table was given a USDA facilitator and three segments of questions to
answer regarding how we might achieve the desired outcome of getting animals
id’d back to the ‘traceability unit’ within their timeframes. The tables were
marked with species placards and there were at least five cattle tables, three
swine, two poultry, one sheep and goat, and one “other species”.

When I entered the room I noticed that Kenny Fox of R CALF USA was at a
cattle table and I failed to notice the “other species” table so
I sat at the sheep and goat table. There were no people at the poultry tables.
The cattle tables were quite full, and all of the reporters were sitting at
the ‘other species’ table, so I thought I would just sit at the empty sheep
and goat table.

When the facilitating began, I was blessed with three USDA representatives
at my table, where all the other tables only had one. I shared the table with
one sheep broker from New Mexico. He deals in 20 to 30,000 head of sheep annually
mostly exported to Mexico and was quite content with the Scrapie program.
This program identifies breeding animals back to the flock of origin with
a number assigned to the flock manager and not the land the animals are held
on. It also allows for tattoos as an alternate form of official id for interstate
commerce, and does not use RFID tags, although it could in the future.

The USDA representatives at my table were not particularly interested in
hearing about how the failed agricultural policies have created a problem
that the USDA would now like all of us to ‘partner’ with them to solve. They
did take copious notes, and were quite proficient in ‘mirroring’ my statements
while slightly adjusting them to fit their desired outcome more handily.

At the end of each of the three segments, a representative from each table
stood and gave the ‘report’ from the table on that segment. The consensus
of the cattle groups were that only breeders should be identified, RFID tags
should be avoided, back tags should continue to be used for feeders and slaughter
cows, and a NAIS styled system would not work at all.

The USDA is currently promoting the use of ‘bright’ tags for cattle. These
are very similar to brucellosis tags in numbering and appearance. However,
when the only question and answer segment of the day took place and Neil Hammerschmidt
(one of the main authors of NAIS) gave most of the answers, he made it clear
that the USDA still wants to ‘aggressively’ pursue the use of 840 tags.

The bottom line about the entire meeting is that the USDA will try to have
a draft rule ready in June from the “Regulatory Working Group”.
This rule will define the “performance standards” that are to be
met by the states to engage in interstate commerce. The USDA plans to publish
this proposed rule in November or December of 2010, allow a 90-day comment
period, and finalize the rule (make it law) from 8-10 months after the comment
period is complete. There may be different requirements under these performance
standards by species, and some potentially exempted sectors or movements.
There is admitted concern from the USDA and their friends that incentives
and disincentives for states must be expressed clearly and not be too “heavy
handed”. In other words, if a state meets compliance levels in hogs and
not cattle, the hogs should not be refused access to interstate commerce.

It appears to me that we must proactively engage our state legislators
to statutorily define requirements for interstate livestock movement and not
allow the Departments of Agriculture the leeway to cooperate with the USDA
to achieve the goals of the USDA as those goals are still NAIS oriented. The
USDA will not dismantle the National Premises Repository although Hammerschmidt
stated that if a state were to want to withdraw all of their participants,
they could do so. Also, according to Hammerschmidt, they still want to move
‘aggressively’ to 840 tags as official identification along with electronic
Certificates of Veterinary Inspection.

The onus of implementing the graduated Animal Disease Traceability program
rests squarely on the individual states. Either the states will define those
standards statutorily or the USDA will bring about their final desires incrementally
through the regulatory process.

Editor’s Note: Past Sec. of Agriculture, now Senator Mike Johanns was the chief NAIS enforcer fighting for a mandatory NAIS just a couple years ago. He was charged with cutting the first deals with Farm Bureau, the Holstein Assn USA Inc, National Pork Producers Council, Indian tribes, the American Angus Assn and every state department of agriculture, providing “grants” to enroll their producer’s premises in NAIS — over one hundred million dollars.

His repentant pleadings and demands for the complete death of NAIS is clear. Seldom does a Senator define their views with this detail and clarity.

Now, for the first time, his presentation is the exact position of the US livestock producer. Finally, a clear defined true picture is offered by a USDA insider who promoted NAIS with his whole heart, then with no notice, resigned, realizing NAIS was devastating to USDA and the producer. This is the voice of experience.

We compliment Senator Johanns for his honesty, at this time.

Note: Facts, the application for the grant money to operate the program requires that Wisconsin abide by the terms set forth under the Federal Register. In which the participation must be voluntary and a producer can op-out. The state has breached their contract and are subject to Federal Administrative Relief which may result in repayment of all grant moneys. The USDA also failed to provide warning to the state that it may be sued, under requirements of Article 1 Sec.8 Clause 1 regarding grants under the authority of the General Welfare Clause. See annotated Supreme Court rulings for details.

Paul M. Griepentrog

A decision has finally been made in the highly anticipated case in which the State of Wisconsin was trying to sue an Amish man for not following Wisconsin’s Livestock Premise Registration law. On Tuesday, Clark County Circuit Court Judge Jon Counsell ruled that Emanuel Miller Jr. of Loyal, Wisconsin does have a ‘religious right’ to be exempt from the law, which requires anyone who keeps, houses, or co-mingles livestock to register their premises with the state.

It was noted during court proceedings that the Amish do provide their names and addresses when they buy and sell livestock, and the judge said that doing so should be enough for the state to track down an animal in the event of a disease.

Prosecutors also cited a recent pseudorabies case in Clark County as an example of why the premises law is needed. But Judge Counsell said the state failed to show why alternatives, that would not affect Miller’s religious freedom, would not be just as effective.

The Amish believe the requirement infringes on their religious believes because it could eventually result in the tagging of all animals, or the ‘Mark of the Beast.’ But prosecutors felt with mandatory premise ID, the process of tracking down potentially at-risk farms would be much easier if there were an animal disease. The issue of “government ease” fell short in court to the issue of “religious rights.”

Meanwhile, Paul McGraw, the assistant state veterinarian with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture’s animal health division says he expects the state to appeal the ruling. A case of this nature regarding a state case, is normally a wearing down of the accused, which judges also tire of.

The NAIS, requiring premises registration, was a program instigated by the USDA. Every state was offered “grant” funds as an incentive to enforce a full mandatory NAIS with arrests and fines for noncompliance. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has received over twelve million dollars to tighten the screws on all Wisconsin livestock producers. Their enforcements are the most ruthless of any state with many other pending cases. Their grant moneys are also the largest considering the number of livestock producers in the state.

Wisconsin has been used by USDA as an example of strict enforcements for the nation. Additionally increasing the weakened position of Wisconsin, national resistance to NAIS caused Sec. Vilsack on Feb. 5, to announce the NAIS program was discontinued. Without the backing of federal policy, judicial decisions by Wisconsin are predicted to be very problematic for the state. The Miller case is the first court decision since USDA withdrew the program.

On Feb 5 Vilsack stated that one of the reasons for terminating the NAIS program was that, “USDA had gotten a failing grade on NAIS” and that, “Terminating the program would help overcome some of the mistrust caused by NAIS.” It appears Dr. McGraw still has not arrived to where Sec. Vilsack is, serious work on the Wisconsin “mistrust” issue.

The case at one time was referred to as the state’s first such NAIS prosecution, until a Polk County judge ruled in October that Patrick Monchilovich of Cumberland violated the four-year-old rule after he refused to register his premises. He was ordered to pay a civil forfeiture and court costs. (This was before the USDA Feb. 5 announcement.)

McGraw and Wisconsin have been tossed under the bus by USDA and now Clark County Circuit Court Judge Jon Counsell just tossed them under a convoy of galloping Amish steel-wheeled buggies.

Animal ID, Another View

James Clement on his horse
James Clement, DVM

Comments By James Clement, DVM, Cow-Calf Research & Consulting, regarding the Ron DeHaven / AVMA News Release on Animal ID

3/9/2010

Dr. Ron DeHaven, Executive Vice President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in a recent press release and AVMA TV video presentation criticizes USDA for including cattle branding as an acceptable form of animal identification. In the video, Dehaven refers to cattle branding as an outdated form of theft deterrent and also states, “It’s hard for me to imagine how this ancient technology will fit into a modern, interstate system to trace animals.”

As an AVMA member I would hope that official statements made by the AVMA Executive VP would be fact based. Dr. Dehaven’s statements regarding State Brand Inspection Systems (SBIS) are inaccurate and are testimony to his lack of cattle industry knowledge. Common misunderstandings about the roles served by SBIS in animal disease investigations are assumptions that the value resides only with the ID / brand. The value is in the information generated. Animal tracking data is generated every day in Brand States and is the byproduct of routine record-keeping processes that involve cattle marketing businesses and SBIS. SBIS create inspection certificates associated with the movement of 27,000,000 head of livestock (primarily cattle) on an annual basis. SBIS are anything but “outdated forms of theft deterrents”. SBIS utilize a variety of modern electronic data processing technologies. SBIS have turn-key workforces, local knowledge, local authority and local respect.

The US Animal Identification Plan (USAIP) forerunner of the NAIS was initiated in 2002. The USAIP was composed of working groups that represented major animal species. Seventy individuals representing producers, allied industries, and state and federal animal health officials made up the Cattle Working Group.

Thirteen guiding principles were agreed upon by the cattle working group. One of the 13 principles was specific to SBIS and is as follows, “Existing State Brand Inspection Systems should be recognized and utilized, whenever possible. USDA / APHIS is encouraged to thoroughly investigate opportunities for integrating State Brand Inspection with the NAIS.” As the USAIP guiding principle states SBIS have value and should be included in any new efforts to resurrect the NAIS.

The following paragraph describes SBIS processes and attributes that benefit animal disease investigations and tracking efforts. Cattle (branded and non-branded) that are marketed through livestock sales businesses located in brand areas are inspected at receiving and cleared for transport and ownership to new premises after purchase. Brands and brand certificates are legal title. Title is transferred through bills of sale or brand certificates. Buyer invoices generated by cattle marketing business are used to create brand certificates. Information transferred from buyer invoices to brand certificates is accurate because real dollars and title are being transferred. Also, cattle inventories are reconciled at the end of the sale. Accurate information describing market cohort groups (consigned cattle and purchased cattle) is available through sale recap documents. Data provided through check-in, sale and brand documents can be codified and animals and premises associated with these documents can be described according to NAIS data standards, e.g. Group Lot ID Numbers and Premises ID Numbers.

Emergency management of diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease will require immediate identification of all potentially exposed livestock. The information generated by SBIS automatically identifies market cohort groups. Full participation in animal tagging and movement reporting would be necessary for the NAIS to identify the same market cohorts. Also movement documents listing animal IDs and associated premises are technically not movement documents but sighting documents. This is because premises of origin and premises of destination are not linked until sighting documents from both locals are received and processed by the animal tracking databases. In order for the NAIS to generate the same market cohort information that is automatically generated by SBIS the following would need to take place:

  • All cattle consigned must be identified with RFID tags and scanned into the livestock market.
  • At Check-in sighting documents listing the RFIDs moved out from the premises of origin must be created and forwarded to an Animal Tracking Database (ATD).
  • At Check-in, sighting documents listing the RFIDs moved into the market premises must be created and forwarded to an Animal Tracking Database (ATD) because the protocols developed by USDA would not allow origin and destination to appear on the same certificate.
  • After cattle are sold, RFID tags are scanned prior to assembly into buyer pens.
  • All cattle leaving must be identified as to truckload lots either through load-out RFID scanning or by combining the data associated with the appropriate buyer pen scans.
  • At load-out, sighting documents listing the RFIDs moved out from the market premises must be created and forwarded to an Animal Tracking Database (ATD).
  • Upon arrival at the new owners premises sighting documents listing the RFIDs moved in from the market premises must be created and forwarded to an Animal Tracking Database (ATD).

NAIS policy dictated that the bulleted steps listed above were to occur in a voluntary atmosphere.

Dr. Dehaven implies that this process would be superior to the SBIS methods used to identify market cohorts.

Events and emotion surrounding the first US, BSE case (Canadian origin cow residing in Washington State) provided the momentum for NAIS implementation to commence. Initially outreach efforts described participation in NAIS as voluntary with a probable shift to mandatory being the eventual reality. Cost and data confidentiality were major producer / stakeholder issues. Implementation was divided into 3 phases (Premises Registration, Animal Identification and Animal Tracking). Federal legislation was drafted late in 2004 to create Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions for producer and stakeholder data being submitted to the NAIS. By midyear 2005 no one from USDA was championing the FOIA legislation and on August 30, 2005, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced that a publicly held database theoretically would be open to access under FOIA and that Animal ID data held or maintained in a private system assures the confidentiality of producer information, therefore USDA policy would be that animal movement data would be maintained in a private system.

James Clement James C. Clement,DVM
Cow-Calf Research & Consulting
2248 Sunny Rd South
Mandan, ND 58554
701-663-6800 ( Office and Fax)
701-663-6806 ( Home)
701-220-0375 ( Mobile)

Email: jclement@bis.midco.net

The August 30th Johanns plan was essentially the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Animal ID Commission plan and a less than stellar example of special interest lobbying.

Many of the USAIP animal species group members were outraged to say the least and by early 2006 different data management plans were proposed and the ATD ATPS model was finally adopted. USDA’s credibility was damaged, disharmony and delays associated with issues surrounding the NAIS data management policy were kind of the beginning of the end.

Dr. Dehaven was the APHIS administrator before and during NAIS implementation and also when Secretary Johanns announced the change of plan on August 30,2005.

The hubris and lack of understanding associated with Dr.Dehaven’s message is disturbing and quite frankly, unbelievable. State and Tribal Animal Health Officials and the individuals and organizations associated with SBIS are the recipient of his insults. These entities were the common denominator associated with the few NAIS success stories. If a new Animal ID effort is ever to be successful it will have to start with local street-smart workforces, that come equipped with local knowledge, local authority, and local respect.

… JClement

Source: James C. Clement, DVM

Cow-Calf Research & Consulting


Ron DeHaven

Dr. W. Ron DeHaven is CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Assn.

USDA Sec. Vilsack announced during the morning of Feb. 5 that NAIS was over, ended, no more.

His customary emotionless announcement was fairly brief, but the detailed USDA Factsheet (Click here for factsheet) released simultaneously required seven pages of small print describing the animal ID “will do’s” and “won’t do’s”–all of which will be enforced at some future date in a to-be-determined manner.

The New York Times reported this based on information from an “unidentified USDA informant.”

At once thousands of emails flew from around the globe with nearly as much excitement outside the US as the home land.

Ranch and cattle producers smiled and nodded.

But it seems the victory may be short lived.

Now comes a lone government employee saying he cannot endorse Sec. Vilsack’s new announcement.

Dr. W. Ron DeHaven is CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Assn. The US veterinarian head count is 100,728 licensed practitioners; of which 930 are Federal Veterinarians, employed by APHIS, and 23 are Homeland Security staff veterinarians.

DeHaven has always been a verbal supporter of mandatory NAIS. He says Vilsack “… has been caving to this public resistance…”

DeHaven’s “public resistance” is the overwhelming majority of livestock producers who opposed the NAIS for a list of reasons that would choke a giraffe.

According to DeHaven, the mag-daddy of veterinarians, none of these “resistors” should have had any voice in the NAIS’s demise, and Secretary Vilsack should not have listened to them.

One gets the feeling he would like to see Vilsack go away, and himself take control.

Then again, DeHaven has shot his mouth off before, under oath. He showed his out-of-touch thinking March 11, 2009 when he testified to the House Committee on Agriculture as a hand picked presenter. He stated, “If the US is to remain competitive or grow export markets, an effective NAIS will be required.”

Evidently unknown to DeHaven, the US has been a net importer of beef for the last 21 years. Last year, the country exported $2,183,977,168 in beef and imported $4,857,454,008.

We haven’t produced enough beef to feed the nation in 21 years, yet DeHaven confidently testified that future exports are imperative.

USDA released their NAIS Fact Sheet February 5. It states:

“What is certain is that animal disease traceability will be required for animals moving in interstate commerce. . .To ensure interstate compatibility and connectivity, APHIS will work with States and Tribal Nations in establishing standards and guidelines where free or low-cost tags will be incorporated as options.”

DeHaven says the AVMA cannot endorse the Vilsack new approach:

“As I understand it, they will let each state and tribal nation more or less develop their own program? So, I’m concerned about interoperability between fifty or more different systems. Will one state be able to talk to another state as an animal moves through interstate commerce?”
DeHaven’s Audio: “Click Here

From this statement, it would appear DeHaven has never processed an interstate veterinarian animal health certificate.

Here is how it works, and has for every veterinarian’s lifetime:

  • An animal is sold into another state.
  • The state receiving the animal has “states rights” and determines the rules of entry.
  • The owner of the sold animal contacts their local veterinarian.
  • The vet has an “Entry Permit Acquisition Book” with phone numbers of every US state and tribe, provided by the USDA.
  • They call the state vet office of destination, talk to an authorized person, receive the required protocol, do what ever health tests are required for entry, complete a standard animal health certificate, receive a permit number to enter the state, and the critter is ready to travel.

This health certificate has four copies of different colors.

  • One copy goes with the hauler,
  • One stays with the local vet,
  • Two go to the state vet of origin, and
  • They forward one copy on to the receiving state vet.

The receiving state has a staff of people who check these incoming certificates every day, and may actually go and inspect the animals after arrival if they have concern.

It has always been required that a permanent ID be on each departing critter. This can be a:

  • Fire brand number,
  • Tattoo,
  • Cheap government metal ear clip,
  • OCV clip, or
  • Other approved ID.

This has been established and is already done.

No animals travel across state lines without ID and a health certificate, and nothing is new about that.

This is a system that has worked for a lifetime, and Vilsack understands the total cost to USDA is zero to continue this process.

This system has been used successfully during every major outbreak of livestock disease in our history.

Currently a huge weight of mistrust hangs over DeHaven, Vilsack, and the USDA. Vilsack says he is well aware of “. . .the downward confidence level NAIS has caused.”

The attempt to shove NAIS down the throat of every livestock producer in the U.S. will-not-be-forgotten, and the USDA may try to resurrect and rename it again–the Every Animal Traceability Tax, (EATT), or the No Cow Left Behind (NCLB)–but the results will be the same.

And another bureaucrat like DeHaven will stand up before some Congressional committee and pretend there is this huge, dangerous, animal disease mountain to climb and that without a NAIS, the food safety of the nation will be imperiled.

Hopefully, that bureaucrat will have enough sense to know we already have a successful interstate commerce system in place, and that all it takes for a producer to comply is to make a phone call to the destination state and do what the receiving state asks.

It’s that simple.

USDA Signals NAIS is Dead

2/8/2010
Max Thornsberry

After a long-fought six-year battle, independent cattle producers have finally succeeded in stopping the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which was an onerous plan conceived by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), domestic and multinational ear tag companies, as well as multinational meat packers and their closely aligned trade associations.

The battle was extremely lopsided. USDA had millions of dollars of taxpayer money — over $140 million to be precise — to develop and promote NAIS and to persuade state departments of agriculture and cattle industry trade associations to recruit as many independent cattle producers as possible into the ill-fated NAIS program. According to the Web site www.usaspending.gov, the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, part of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), received over $2.1 million from the federal government in 2008 to promote NAIS.

Armed with millions of dollars and six years worth of joint government and processing-industry planning, how did NAIS get stopped?

The answer is that NAIS was stopped by the persistent, relentless pressure applied by a handful of non-conventional organizations that exclusively represented the interests of cattle farmers and ranchers, not the interests of the industrialized sectors of the U.S. beef supply chain. This was a David versus Goliath battle in which David won and the interests of independent cattle producers came out on top.

These recent victories by independent cattle producers, with far less political clout and economic power than their conventional beef industry trade association counterparts, strongly suggests that there remains a genuine reason for hope that independent cattle producers can reverse the present course of their industry — a course that is fast leading toward more and more corporate control over the U.S. cattle industry by beef packers that are capturing control over the live cattle supply chain, just as they have already captured control over both the poultry and hog supply chains.

The beef packers are now focusing their efforts on the feeding sector of the cattle industry by purchasing more and more feedlots (JBS recently purchased the nation’s largest feedlot company, Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding, L.L.C.) and gaining increased control over the fed cattle market through the use of new cattle procurement tools, such as certain marketing agreements and formula-type contracts that effectively reduce the competitiveness of the fed cattle cash market.

As with every major policy issue victory, the real work begins now.

Now that NAIS has been scrapped, a new program needs to be developed to achieve improvements in the United States’ ability to quickly contain and control animal diseases. Independent cattle producers must remain directly involved in the development of this new program to ensure that it does not infringe upon their rights and privileges as did NAIS.

It is encouraging that when Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced he was going to pursue a new approach to animal disease traceability, he also announced that the U.S. must strengthen its import controls to prevent the introduction of animal diseases at our borders. This is a high priority for independent cattle producers who intrinsically understand that we cannot continue importing diseases like BSE, bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis if we desire to maintain our industry’s reputation of producing the healthiest cattle in the world — a reputation that is the U.S. cattle industry’s competitive advantage in both the domestic market and the global market.

I encourage every cattle producer to take a new look at the relatively new organizations that have amassed uncanny successes for independent cattle producers despite seemingly impossible odds. Each of the organizations that brought us to where we’re at today is not likely to lead us in a new direction. But some of these new organizations will and they need your support to continue winning their fight to restore for the U.S. cattle industry the opportunity for U.S. cattle producers to maintain independent and profitable cattle-producing businesses all across the United States.

The future of the U.S. cattle industry is in your hands and will be determined by which organization you choose to support.

The NAIS that USDA was attempting to force down the throats of independent U.S. cattle producers, utilizing our own tax dollars, would have completely changed the way cattle farmers and ranchers do business.

While obtaining a premises ID number — the first step to a nationwide NAIS — required no effort, the second and third steps in the onerous WTO-mandated system would have been costly, difficult, and, I believe, would have generated rebellion on the range. Reporting the movement of every animal, once it left its birth farm of origin, was a completely unworkable system for producers, especially those operating in our most populous cow states, where the average cowherd size is 30 to 40 mother cows.

Imagine having to get your cattle in a chute, read the tags electronically, and report the numbers to USDA every time you moved a set of calves to another pasture, your Dad’s place, or sent a group of calves to the sale barn. Not only were you going to be required to read the tags electronically, but you were going to be required to report the tag numbers to the appropriate authorities within 48 hours of that movement, or you would be out of compliance and subject to enforcement fines: A range rebellion in the making, and completely unnecessary for a first world country like the United States.

At least for the time-being, the government has listened to the people. A spike has been driven into the heart of a one-world government’s dictatorial rule.

Maybe our Constitution is not dead?

The Associated Press misreported this morning that “The USDA Abandons Stalled Animal ID Program.” A press release issued last Friday by the USDA hints at another fate.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA will develop a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the United States, and undertake several other actions to further strengthen its disease prevention and response capabilities.

Did you understand that statement? The USDA, after a 15 city listening tour last summer, has decided listening is highly overrated. They seemed to understand, acknowledging hearing “a wide variety of comments during the listening tour.”

A document on USDA web site said, “Some people were in favor of NAIS, but the vast majority of participants were highly critical of the program. Some of the concerns and criticisms raised included confidentiality, liability, cost, privacy, and religion. There were also concerns about NAIS being the wrong priority for USDA, that the system benefits only large-scale producers, and that NAIS is unnecessary because existing animal identification systems are sufficient.”

So they’re trying to re-invent the program, make it more palatable to people who signaled their willingness to stand at the farm gate, armed and dangerous, to prevent any part of a government mandated NAIS from creeping into their business.

If the USDA has trouble reading the tea leaves, let Lorrie Morgan explain it to you.

To be more specific, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “After concluding our listening tour on the National Animal Identification System in 15 cities across the country, receiving thousands of comments from the public and input from States, Tribal Nations, industry groups, and representatives for small and organic farmers, it is apparent that a new strategy for animal disease traceability is needed. I’ve decided to revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we heard.”

What part of no don’t you understand?

The feedback he was talking about was clear, painfully so. Excruciatingly obvious. As plain as the nose on an anteater’s face.

It was “No. Not now. Not ever.”

Most every small farmer and rancher responded with the kind of “cold, dead fingers” response that would gladden the heart of Charlton Heston. Not to repeat myself but I attended two listening sessions; Jeff City and Omaha. The one lone pro-NAIS speaker in Jeff City never finished his spiel. Fearing for his safety, he fled a very hostile audience in mid-speech. The Omaha crowd wasn’t nearly as angry but their message was the same.

It was “No. Not now. Not ever.”

But an ever optimistic Vilsack announced these basic tenets of an ‘improved’ animal disease traceability program. The new plan will –

* Only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce;
* Be administered by the States and Tribal Nations to provide more flexibility;
* Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and
* Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.

“One of my main goals for this new approach is to build a collaborative process for shaping and implementing our framework for animal disease traceability,” said Vilsack. “We are committed to working in partnership with States, Tribal Nations and industry in the coming months to address many of the details of this framework, and giving ample opportunity for farmers and ranchers and the public to provide us with continued input through this process.”

May I call on Lorrie Morgan, again?

The USDA will convene a forum with animal health leaders for the States and Tribal Nations to initiate a dialogue about ‘possible ways of achieving the flexible, coordinated approach to animal disease traceability we envision.’ Let’s hope they invite all the stakeholders and be prepared to duck and cover.

Chuck Jolley is a free lance writer, based in Kansas City, who covers a wide range of ag industry topics for Cattlenetwork.com and Agnetwork.com.

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