Browsing Posts tagged USDA Listening Sessions

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.

For Immediate Release

February 8, 2010Contact:
Shae Dodson-Chambers, Communications Coordinator
Phone: 406-672-8969; e-mail:

Group Praises USDA for Decision to Abandon NAIS

Washington, D.C. — In a letter sent Friday to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian, thanked the United States’ top agriculture official for his “receptiveness to the interests of U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers.” On Friday, Vilsack announced he was revising his agency’s prior policy on animal disease traceability and would begin developing a new approach. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) prior policy was the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), a policy vehemently opposed by R-CALF USA and its numerous state affiliates.

“The Secretary has signaled he is going back to the drawing board to develop a new system that does not infringe upon the rights and privileges of U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers as did NAIS,” Thornsberry said. “This is exactly what we’ve been urging USDA to do for the past five years. Our organization has expended considerable resources trying to put a halt to NAIS, and we’re pleased that our members’ efforts have finally come to fruition.”

Thornsberry said NAIS was conceived and supported by international trade organizations, ear tag manufacturers and multinational meatpackers, and was all about controlling cattle farmers and ranchers and cattle markets, not about controlling and preventing animal diseases.

“Friday’s announcement is a major victory for independent cattle producers, as it marks the first time in a very long time that USDA did not suppress the interests of cattle producers in order to accommodate the self-interests of the dominant meatpackers and their allies,” he said.

R-CALF USA Animal Identification Committee Chair Kenny Fox said that the 8-point plan R-CALF USA submitted last year to USDA as an alternative to NAIS fits within the new framework described by Vilsack on Friday. Fox also serves as president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSGA), one of R-CALF USA’s largest affiliate organizations.

“Our plan called for the control of disease-related animal identification databases to be vested with state and tribal animal health officials, flexibility in the use of preexisting animal identification devices such as brucellosis tags, no federally mandated premises registration and a renewed emphasis in preventing the introduction of diseases at our borders, all of which are consistent with what USDA announced on Friday,” said Fox.

Thornsberry said this victory was made possible by the thousands of U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers who stood steadfast against NAIS despite the millions of dollars that USDA provided to states and many conventional agricultural organizations in an attempt to enroll as many independent cattle producers as possible into the flawed NAIS system.

“I couldn’t be prouder of R-CALF USA and our state affiliates that never waivered an inch against the extreme pressure applied to our industry by USDA under the previous Administration, by the multinational meatpackers and by the conventional industry trade associations with close ties to both the meatpacking industry and ear tag manufacturers,” he emphasized

“The next step will be to actually help USDA develop the details of this new approach to animal disease traceability, and we will remain directly involved to ensure that the interests of our nation’s independent cattle producers continue to be addressed in this process,” Fox concluded.

# # #

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 marketin! g 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 or, call 406-252-2516.

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 and

For those who are interested, here’s the full transcript of the morning half of the NAIS listening session I went to in Harrisburg in May. There’s a lot there to read–54 pages. I don’t intend to wade through it all myself. (I heard it the first time, after all.) I would encourage you, though, to search (Ctrl + F) Darol Dickinson. His comments were the highlight of the day for me. Oh, and here’s the transcript from the afternoon breakout session I was in, too. I noticed they made a few errors in transcribing my comments, but nothing that changes the basic message.

Darol Dickinson Comments:

DD: My name is Darol Dickinson. I am from Ohio. I had the privilege of driving 7 hours over here yesterday, so I could get my precious 3 minutes in. I thank you for that. Then one kind person that I’ve never met before today relinquished his 3 minutes to me, so I hope you’ll put that 6 minutes on the clock, please. I had an email from John Carter, the president of the Australian Cattlemen’s Association, realizing that I would be at this meeting, and he said, “Fight NAIS.” We’ve had NLIS in Australia now–mandatory. It’s a nasty word. They’ve had that in Australia. It’s killing them. The book work, the compliance, fees, the fines, the penalties are driving them crazy. He says, “Fight NAIS with your life. Don’t let the government get it started. They started it in Australia. It’s just cost them a fortune. Land has dropped in prices. The big ranches have dropped. They’re trying to sell. They cannot fight the government. It’s killing them down there. That’s a word from John Carter who’s right in the middle of it in a country that can’t stop it. Their government will not relinquish it.

At this time the United States livestock is the most disease free in the world, the safest food. The current system has and will safely serve the nation. It is not outdated as some have said. U.S. herd health is the professional example to the world. Each livestock owner maintains their own herd health. Today, 47 states do not have a recorded case of any reportable livestock disease. This is the lowest disease of U.S. record. If USDA will direct their concerns to foreign imports, future unknown disease will be even less, contrary to what briefings have indicated.

The largest owner of meat animals in the states are the states and the U.S. government–their wild game herds. The number of these large animals is more than doubled the number of domestic beef cattle. These animals roam freely over the United States and three other countries without regard to numbering, vaccinations or disease. Those three countries are Mexico, Canada; and I checked with the Alaskan Department of Wildlife, and they say they have animal migration to and from Russia. So the United States government does not intend to number their herd. We landowners feed their herd. So while the U.S. wants mandatory NAIS for the private sector, they have no regard for policing their own disease; who, in fact, are the major transmitters of animal disease in the United States? Did you know there were 200 people last year killed in car wrecks from deer on the highway? That’s 200 deaths if we’re worried about people’s lives, and that’s the government herd that’s doing that. Okay? Are you with me?

The USDA has briefed elected leaders with flawed data. Leaders have been told there are 1.4 million livestock farms in the USA and over a third enrolled in NAIS. The correct number of farms is over 3.9 million. They’ve omitted certain segments that they don’t want to count. They will require these segments to sign up for NAIS if it’s mandatory, but there is, according to their own census, 499,880 farms that sold under a thousand dollars worth of livestock last years, so those were omitted. The horse population– (interruption……….)

AR: Sir, can you wrap up, please?

DD: I’ve got 6 minutes.

AR: No, sir, there’s no ceding of time.

DD: I’ve been yielded another 3 minutes.

FS: No, it’s not fair to everybody else. You only get 3. It’s not fair to everyone else. Everyone else is waiting for their turn as well.

DD: Yes it is fair. I have 3 minutes and this gentleman yielded his 3 minutes to me. You do it in Congress all the time!

AR: That’s fine. It was my fault. My directions weren’t clear. I’ll let him finish. I apologize for the confusion, but from this point forward, there’s no ceding time. It’s 3 minutes per person.

DD: Thank you very much, ma’am. Please reset your clock to reflect the interruption time.

Instead of the one-third enrollment that we’re told about, there’s 1.96 million horse owners in the United States that were not counted. So we believe instead of 1/3 of the enrollment already in NAIS, there’s only less than 10 percent enrolled if you look at the full picture.

The USDA has falsely told cattle producers that beef export sales is the key to profitable cattle business. This is not correct. Last year the U.S. exported $2.1 billion worth of cattle. We imported $4.8 billion. We are a net import nation. We don’t need to export anything. We don’t need to apply for any kind of U.N. status to help us export. If we never export another pound of beef, it will not cost anybody in this room a penny. Okay?

For several dozen years nearly 2000 food producing ranches are going out of business per month. NAIS, if it happens, there will be more than 2000 people going out of business per month. I’m a little nervous on this because I feel this involves my farm, my sons, my daughter, my grandchildren; and I don’t believe we’ll be able to survive NAIS and the cost of it, so forgive me if I’m a little emotional, okay?

Data indicates that the average bovine in normal course of commerce has 8 owners during their earthly existence. NAIS would require a computer entry for each movement or transfer. Within 3 years, NAIS computer entries would more than equal the census of the earth’s human population, and every farmer and livestock owner will have to pay for all costs. That is the biggest numbering system that’s ever been devised for taxpayers to pay in the history of the world.

Over 3 million livestock producers are refusing to surrender to NAIS property enrollment. The reason is–livestock people are receiving deceptive answers and do not trust USDA. They’re scared of USDA and their ever-changing protocol and all the questions that are being asked that cannot be answered. That’s the reason–they can’t be answered because they haven’t made all the rules yet.

So I feel kind of like the old herd sire that was going down the alley, and they asked him just before he got to the… squeeze chute; “How would you prefer your castration? Would you like it with a knife, a burdizzo or a Callicrate band?” So the answer, like all other herd sires is, “None of the above.”

AR: Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to wrap up, please.

DD: Okay. I only have one objection to NAIS. In all fairness, it’s the word “mandatory.” Everything else is okay–mandatory is the killer. So one piece of advice. If a government program isn’t worth doing, it isn’t worth doing well. Thank you.

Written by: Chuck JolleyCattle Network

She belts one out on Monday. Except ‘she’ will be a couple of he’s — Brooks and Dunn singing ‘That ain’t no way to go.’

The heavily promoted comment period for the U.S.D.A.’s National Animal Identification System (N.A.I.S.) listening tour will end on Monday. According to the U.S.D.A., comments received on or before this date will be considered. Hopefully written comments received after the final Omaha meeting will be taken more seriously than spoken comments were during the ‘live,’ face-to-face meetings.

“While the roundtables and public listening sessions are complete, I encourage those of you who still would like to share your concerns and suggestions about N.A.I.S. to submit your written comments by August 3,” said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, “We look forward to considering all the feedback before deciding on the future direction of U.S.D.A.’s traceability efforts.”

U.S.D.A. has posted a feedback page on the N.A.I.S. Web site. Whether you’re your for it or against it, go to now to provide your suggestions and comments.

If Vilsack is counting noses, N.A.I.S. will be deep-sixed on August 4. He announced the listening tour on May 15 as a way to find common ground for the development of the always controversial program. To be painfully blunt, common ground never existed. Only a pitifully small handful of people stood up for a national program during the 14 city tour. The vast majority of the often overly enthusiastic crowd spoke against N.A.I.S. using very specific and occasionally salty language. Trying to talk those people into accepting an animal identification program will be tougher than talking a card-carrying N.R.A. member out of his gun.

In fact, more than a few N.R.A. card-carrying farmers have promised to show anyone representing NAIS who dares step foot on his or her property a personal collection of fire arms. Barrel end first.

As a voluntary program, N.A.I.S. might have worked but only with the strongest possible assurances from the U.S.D.A. that ‘voluntary’ isn’t code for ‘mandatory’ within a few short years. Even that approach would be a hard sell as most of the speakers were outspoken about their innate distrust of anything that smacked of “Hello, I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

These are people who are used to doing it themselves. If any help is needed, it’s neighbor-to-neighbor, not federales to farmers. The mistake the USDA made was trying to organize this program from the top down. Going after the cooperation of state ag agencies and trade associations, they assumed, would win the day and the big boys did fall in line, lured by the promise of an ever expanding foreign trade opportunity. NAIS, though, is a bottom up program. It can only succeed with the consent and cooperation of the hundreds of thousands of small farmers from Portland, ME to Portland OR.

They said no.

If there is any confusion about the meaning of that word, maybe the U.S.D.A. can understand it a little better by clicking here.

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

Jolley: NAIS, Dead Or Alive?

Let’s get something straight about NAIS from the beginning.  I don’t own any cattle.  No chickens, hogs, alpacas, purebred dogs, turkeys or guinea fowl.  So, as they say, I don’t have a dog in this fight.  Whether it becomes the law (or federal regulation) of the land, or not, won’t have an immediate impact on my wallet.

I seem to share that state of mind with Tom Vilsack.

A few differences come to mind, though.  I attended the listening sessions in Jefferson City and Omaha.  Tom didn’t.

I wrote about both events and read every bit of feedback I got so that I would be able to develop a true sense of what the average farmer thought about the issue.  Tom didn’t.

I asked a few of the people who were profoundly anti-NAIS to respond to some questions about their stance.  They responded with well-reasoned answers.  Here are a few of my most recent columns on NAIS.

Jolley: Five Minutes With The NAIS Issue – Cattle Network

Jun 26, 2009 … “Today, I am asking farmers and stakeholders to engage with USDA in a more productive dialogue about NAIS. Now is the time to have frank and …

Jolley: Five Minutes With Dr. John Wiemers, USDA, APHIS, NAIS

Feb 1, 2008 … From deep within the inner mechanisms of the National Animal Identification System, commonly known as NAIS, comes a man who has been …

Jolley: Five Minutes With Rhonda Perry, Missouri Rural Crisis …

Jun 19, 2009 … Then Rhonda Perry of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center stood up and calmly brought the crowd to its collective boot-shod feet by politely … – CachedSimilar

Jolley: Delivering The Coup de Grâce To No NAIS sayers? – Cattle …

May 20, 2009 … If only a third of the ranchers take part in the program, it’s D.O.A. Those aren’t enough numbers to make NAIS workable whether you’re for …

To balance the scales, I asked Tom to answers some of the same questions.  Tom didn’t.

The questions I submitted to him were answered by Dr. John Clifford, a good and learned man who has the respect of all those who work with him.  The e-cards and e-letters I received from that interview were 100% against NAIS in any way, shape or form. Passing the buck to Dr. Clifford, though, and reading the answers he supplied gives me a sense of where this issue stands with Tom Vilsack.

His May 15 comments announcing the listening sessions indicated that NAIS was a done deal, he just wanted to see if there might be – somewhere, somehow – some common ground that might make it palatable to more people.  I hope he didn’t think he would win over a majority; just a few more fence-sitters.

But the coldest and hardest of facts is NAIS is a breakwater issue; one that, frankly, most opponents would rather pass water on.  The written comments on line are overwhelmingly against the program.  The spoken comments at the listening sessions were even more vehement in their opposition.

If NAIS were to come to a vote, it would be overwhelmed in a landslide worse than Goldwater suffered in 1964.  The nearest political defeat in America history that might compare would be James Monroe‘s 231 electoral votes to John Quincy Adams‘s 1 electoral vote in 1820. (85.6% margin).

Are you getting a sense of why the Secretary handed off the old pigskin?  Did anyone see the Washington Redskins play the Giants in 1985 when Joe Theismann’s career came to a quick and sudden end?  Late in the 2nd Quarter the Giants defense, not buying a flea-flicker. swarmed on top of him causing his leg to buckle and snap as a horrified national audience watched.  Vilsack isn’t ready to have his career end on a note like that.

What we have here is an agricultural community that is as vehemently against NAIS as the pro-gun crowd is against any form of gun control.  That quote came from a lawyer friend who has been a close observer of both issues.  It’s a “pry it from my cold, dead hands” issue.

Standing on the other side of the chasm is the USDA, still determined to implement NAIS.  They see it as necessary to maintaining international trade and the only way to ‘locate in 48.’

With many small farmers telegraphing a willingness to stand guard against any incursion by the USDA with their unregulated fire arms, we’re facing a mini-civil war.  The listening session only served to move the two sides farther apart.   Those listening sessions were a real-time flea flicker play that the ag public didn’t buy.

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

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By Rady Ananda

Scrap NAIS; decentralize the food industry

The hottest topic in agriculture is NAIS – the proposed National Animal Identification System. Using embedded microchips and mountains of paperwork, the federal government plans to create a database that tracks every animal in the nation. Independent producers and privacy advocates adamantly oppose the plan.

From May 14th thru June 30th, the USDA held “listening sessions” in fourteen cities across the nation. USDA asserted it wants “to engage stakeholders and producers to hear not only their concerns about [NAIS], but also potential or feasible solutions to those concerns.”

USDA hoped the listening sessions would provide a forum where stakeholders could help devise a NAIS that producers could live with. Instead, ranchers and farmers want the entire NAIS plan scrapped. Over 1600 people attended these sessions, with 500 testifying. Eighty-five percent of those who spoke condemned NAIS.

Listening Session Quotes

Darol Dickinson, longhorn cattleman from Ohio, believes the USDA plan is being forced on producers, despite objection.

“They’ve conveyed to us that we have no right to oppose them. They’ve told people, ‘This is going to happen.’ That doesn’t sit well with independent thinking people, especially ranchers and farmers.”

Dickinson spoke at the Harrisburg, PA listening session and conveyed on Carl Lanore’s radio show:

“I told them that their ‘option’ reminded me of being an old herd sire – being pushed down an alley with an electric prod, and somebody mentions to the herd sire, ‘How do you want to be castrated – with a dull knife, with a burdizzo or an elastic band?’ And the answer, of course, is none of the above.”

One group opposing NAIS, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to re-focus the nation’s animal disease and food safety efforts on several alternatives including:

  • Decentralize the livestock industry and encourage local, diversified farms, which would increase animal health, food security, and food safety;
  • Increase inspections of imported animals and agricultural products and bar the entry of animals from countries with known disease problems; and
  • Improve enforcement of existing laws and inspections of large slaughterhouses and food processing facilities, including unannounced spot inspections at those large facilities.

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Mike Callicrate, an independent cattle producer, is not at all happy with NAIS. He firmly believes that the best way to protect the food supply is to enforce existing laws and go back to unannounced inspections of factory farms, slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants.

“Today, USDA, in protecting the biggest and dirtiest meat plants, continues to block trace-back of pathogens to the source plant, a very easy and inexpensive measure that could improve food safety tomorrow.”

He blames the 2002 E. coli contamination of 20 million pounds of ConAgra beef on lack of inspections.

“USDA has done nothing to address the problems in the big packing plants where E. coli is systematically put into our meat daily while trusting these big profit-driven companies to self inspect under the HACCP hoax.”

HACCP is the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan whereby meatpackers and processing plants inspect themselves. They determine where the most likely places of contamination would occur and design mitigation techniques. The plan is then submitted to the USDA for approval, but enforcing it is left to the companies themselves.

At the Loveland, Colorado listening session, Kimmi Lewis of the Colorado Independent Cattle Growers Association said, “This country is free because we are allowed to own private property.” If it’s tracked by government, it’s not private.

At the Harrisburg, PA listening session, horse breeder Barbara Steever called the USDA “disingenuous” for saying that NAIS will be used to control the spread of disease. To make her point, Steever then asked some hard-hitting questions:

  • “Why, then, are you lowering import restrictions to allow cattle in from Mexico that has bovine TB?
  • Why are you trying to bring in cattle from Argentina that is known to have a reservoir of FMD (foot-and-mouth disease)?
  • [Why are you allowing] cattle over 30 months of age from Canada, that have a higher risk of BSE, and disallowing private businesses from testing for BSE in response to their clients’ needs?
  • Why are you moving a high security disease containment facility into the middle of cattle country?”

madcow (300 x 374)One of the strongest speakers, Rhonda Perry, operates a livestock and grain operation. She spoke on behalf of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, representing 5,600 families. Reiterating above concerns, Perry adds:

“We see industrial livestock operations all over this country that have created incredible environmental, health and food safety concerns.”

Perry points out that none of today’s food safety issues are caused by independent family farmers. She challenges the USDA to increase competition as a strategy to increase food safety. Bust the monopolies and decentralize food production, “instead of looking at this unproven, ineffective, anti-farmer, corporate-driven program of NAIS.”

Others pointed out that NAIS violates our Constitutional rights, including religion. Amish and other religious communities reject implants and biotechnology.

Several dozen videos from the NAIS listening sessions have been posted at YouTube.

Interestingly, the USDA held no listening sessions in Wisconsin, where NAIS has been made mandatory. Farmers there are furious with the bureaucracy and have been warning the rest of the nation. In NAIS Smackdown: The gloves come off, R-Calf lists a better set of food safety proposals instead of NAIS.

Biggest Danger to Food Safety is a Centralized Food System

Safe food spokesperson, Michael Pollan, has long warned us that a centralized food system is uniquely vulnerable to disease and even to a terrorist attack. Also, because concentrated animal feeding operations require the use of antibiotics to keep the herd alive, superbugs with antibiotic resistance are becoming more common.

In the film, Fresh, Missouri natural hog farmer Russ Kremer shares a personal tale of how he almost died from contracting a monster form of strep. The experience convinced him to exterminate his entire herd and start over with a natural herd.

tom-vilsackThe USDA has a long history of using regulations (like HACCP) to protect Big Ag, instead of consumers and small producers. President Obama appointed Tom Vilsack, the “biotechnology governor of the year,” as Secretary of Agriculture. Obama also appointed Monsanto’s Michael Taylor to head the new Food Safety Working Group.

Astute writers and activists caution that even if NAIS is defeated, animal tracing is being snuck into pending legislation, such as HR 2749.

Independent family farmers will have a tough row to hoe trying to convince a Monsanto Administration to do right by small farmers. As they plead with a corporate-owned federal government intent on globalization, the American people may be their best ally.

Buy fresh, locally grown food. Support free range and organic farmers. Yes, healthy food costs more up front. But you save it on the back end, needing fewer doctor visits or pharmaceutical drugs to deal with the diseases (obesity, diabetes, cancer) caused by factory food. You’ll also contribute to your local economy and a healthy environment.


Several recent documentaries discuss the difference between natural and factory food production. In addition to The World According to Monsanto, be sure to see the films below (these are my reviews):

FOOD, Inc. Exposes Horrors of a Centralized Food System
Fresh: How We’re Supposed to Eat
Our Daily Bread a Radically Silent View of Factory Farming


Rady Ananda’s articles have appeared in several online and print publications, including three books. She graduated in December 2003 from The Ohio State University’s School of Agriculture with a BS in Natural Resources.

Posted : Thu, 09 Jul 2009 14:24:37 GMT
Author : Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
Category : Press Release
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FALLS CHURCH, Va. – (Business Wire) The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to actually listen to and honor the comments offered by the nation’s livestock producers during the USDA’s multi-city listening tour on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and scrap the program.

“A common thread that ran through much of the testimony at the USDA hearings was that existing prevention and tracking programs for animal diseases together with state laws on branding and the existing record-keeping by sales barns and livestock shows provide the mechanisms needed for tracking any disease outbreaks,” said Pete Kennedy, acting president of the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

“NAIS is simply not needed,” he added. “The USDA continues to confuse industry support for efforts to identify and eliminate animal diseases with support for NAIS, despite the fact that some 80 percent of the people who testified during the hearings testified against USDA’s animal identification program,” he said.

Kennedy’s comments came as the USDA wrapped up its 14-city listening tour with a session in Omaha last week. During the tour more than 1,600 people attended listening sessions; almost 500 people testified; and more than 400 of those stated their opposition to NAIS.

“Even the U.S. Congress has grown impatient with the NAIS,” commented Fund board member Taaron Meikle, “with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro calling continued investment in USDA’s NAIS ‘unwarranted.’ ”

De Lauro’s comments came in a release explaining the cuts in the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Bill her subcommittee recommended.

Instead of pouring more money and effort into NAIS, the Fund is urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to re-focus the nation’s animal disease and food safety efforts on several alternatives including:

  • Decentralizing the livestock industry and encouraging local, diversified farms, which would increase animal health, food security, and food safety;
  • Increasing inspections of imported animals and agricultural products and barring the entry of animals from countries with known disease problems; and
  • Improving enforcement of existing laws and inspections of large slaughterhouses and food processing facilities, including unannounced spot inspections at those large facilities.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, along with six of its members from Michigan, last year filed suit in the U.S. District Court – District of Columbia against the USDA and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) to stop the implementation of NAIS. An amended complaint was filed in January 2009 with the Fund adding a member from Pennsylvania as a Plaintiff.

The MDA has implemented the first two stages of NAIS – property registration and animal identification – for all cattle and farmers across the State under the guise of its bovine tuberculosis disease control program. MDA’s implementation of the first two steps of NAIS was required, in part, in exchange for a grant from the USDA.

The Fund’s suit asks the court to issue an injunction to stop the implementation of NAIS at both the State and Federal levels by any State or Federal agency. If successful, the suit would halt the program nationwide.

About The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund: The Fund defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of sustainable farmers, and protects consumer access to local, nutrient-dense foods. Concerned citizens can support the Fund by joining at or by contacting the Fund at 703-208-FARM (3276). The Fund’s sister organization, the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation (, works to promote consumer access to local, nutrient-dense food and support farmers engaged in sustainable farm stewardship.

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
Taaron G. Meikle, 703-537-8372
Cummings & Company LLC
Brian Cummings, 214-295-7463

by Darol Dickinson 7-8-09

“Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loveth bribes, and followeth after rewards;” Isaiah 1-23

Political Bribery and Collusion

Here is a link to the USDA spread sheet for NAIS bribes—- sanitized as cooperative agreements. These are the funds received by tribes, states, government employees and companies who promise to enroll properties for USDA. Listed is only a scintilla of the cost. Every veterinarian, county extension agent, and ASCS office employee has been coerced to distribute NAIS literature and “speak kindly” about enrolling. The real cost is well above published data required by law. There are millions being spent monthly. Check it out at (

The National Pork Board got their trough filled with $800,000. That is why USDA tapped them for the emphatic NAIS report to the Subcommittee hearing March 11. The hogs are bought. In the funeral business these are called “rental pallbearers.” (Not about friendships, just money for the moment.)

FFA got $359,995 to sign up their kids before they could show at fairs. The hesitant children who refuse are considered rebels and malcontents.

American Angus Assn got $594,585 to hammer the horns off their members. They also used the $$ to hammer enrollments from non AAA member Angus clients of AAA members who did not surrender to NAIS.

The Holstein Assn made a bold strong testimony at the hearing. They stuck $1,754,428 in the milk bucket so they were glad to brag about NAIS before Congress. Their milk drinking political wing National Milk Producers Assn stuck $1,027,000 in the milk tank from USDA. That is why dairies were forced to enroll property or they could not sell their milk. They closed down numerous Amish dairies with this dirty heartless trick.

Indian tribes are numerous to have coins placed in their teepees? USDA cut deals with tribal leaders and automatically listed tribe members who had livestock. The cost of Indian bribes are much lower than those for the pale face; just a few bottles of fire water keeps history from changing. Once again the government shafts the Indians. (Some Indian tribes have tribal managed herds so every tribe member receives a percentage of the income. This would let every tribe member unknowingly be enrolled in NAIS.)

USDA alleged that the 2008 cooperative agreements would be calculated on achievement. There would be larger payments for more properties surrendered and less if the recipients did not perform. Oops! USDA forgot the oversight part again and each one got full amounts.

Massachusetts has a 227% property sign up. The Ag Census reports that the US has over 3,910,022 farms that qualify to enroll in mandatory NAIS. USDA says there are 1.4 million. Therefore, when they get 100% sign-up there will be another 200% left freely roaming the barn yard. By real numbers they have 9.7% signed up now, not 35% as USDA falsely, under oath, told Congress. If you removed the Indian “bribe” enrollments the USDA has about 4% of the US properties “volunteered.” How sad the USDA has become? Every one should be so ashamed of this expensive dismal branch of the government.

Bribery is not always frugal when spending other people’s money. In fact this project has wasted truck loads of tax money. The cost per person enrolled for NAIS property is a putrid fact. The sickest is Rhode Island with an expenditure of $169,520 and only 15 people surrendered. Alaskan farmers cost $3,083 each. California $708. Connecticut $1,994. Hawaii $1,085. Montana $1,452. New Mexico $695. Wyoming $1,119. Vermont $5,776. Those who spend other’s money, in the case of NAIS, have had amateur supervision from USDA with the appearance of no remorse.

The Washington DC wealth distributors have given USDA a $138,000,000 property sign up budget and more is on the way. As the spread sheet shows, some $40 million is concealed. As a fungible issue this may involve homes in the islands, company planes or “ladies of the night.”

We live in a day that bribes, campaign donations, and cooperative agreements are highly respected in nearly every association, tribe, and government office. USDA uses subject’s tax money to bribe universities and USDA outlets to demand specific performances. Few government offices have the courage to refuse a nice sweet bribe regardless of the smell of Machiavellianism.

NAIS is the farm issue of the hour. USDA has been to the vault to drink the Kool-Aid. You, the enforced ones, call your enforcers and remind them —- an election is coming. Don’t fund one penny to NAIS!! Stop this scam now!!

“In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes.” Psalms 26-10

For more info

By Robert Pore
Published: Sunday, June 28, 2009 12:16 AM CDT

People are not happy about NAIS

People are not happy about NAIS

Dwindling support for a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) has one Nebraska livestock organization calling on state livestock producers to reject the idea of making the program mandatory.

State producers will have an opportunity on Tuesday to speak their minds about the future of a National Animal Identification System as the U.S. Department of Agriculture has added Nebraska as one of its stops on a national listening tour gathering information on the pros and cons on NAIS.

According to Dave Wright, president of the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, his organization is urging ranchers and farmers from across the state to attending the Nebraska NAIS meeting.

Wright said that after five years of voluntary compliance, support for NAIS is very low.

“ICON wants the USDA to see no thread of hope in the cattle country of Nebraska,” he said.

Wright said if the current voluntary system becomes mandatory, the program would fail because the cost of the electronic equipment needed for the tracking system would be “detrimental to the small producer, especially in recent years when profit margins have been almost nonexistent.”

He said both ICON and R-CALF USA question the reliability of the equipment. ICON is an affiliate of R-CALF USA.

“It could be affected or corrupted by any number of processes — loss of electricity, inaccurate information, computer viruses and even capability of producers to operate the delicate equipment in remote areas,” Wright said. “Members also question who can access this information.”

Another flaw, he said, that should “greatly concern cattlemen” is the lack of state jurisdiction.

“All livestock would be treated as one big herd,” Wright said. “The movement of cattle from one location to another is also questionable when one considers a broken fence and herds mixing together.”

He said the program wold be easy for a confined feedlot but would be difficult to implement for cow-calf herds and ranchers.

“How it will deal with livestock lost because of predators, theft or hunters is another question ranchers have,” Wright said.

A great concern, he said, is just how far NAIS can go.

“There is no law to give boundaries to the program,” Wright said. “Livestock owners are very worried about their Fourth Amendment right, which guards against unlawful searches and seizures.”

What concerns Wright is whether U.S. cattle producers will eventually be dictated to by a “global organization” and whether the new program will be a tool for disease eradication or disease and management and control.

Current Nebraska livestock officials are concerned about an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis in Nebraska.

The state’s congressional delegation is asking the USDA, in behalf of the state of Nebraska, for additional assistance to address the TB problem.

What is at stake, the delegation said in a letter recently sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, is the impact of the TB outbreak on the economic viability of the state’s billion-dollar cattle industry.

According to Nebraska’s congressional delegtation, 15,000 head of cattle have been quarantined for testing with the TB exposure risk across Nebraska, Colorado and South Dakota.

“This is not just a Nebraska issue or a Midwest issue,” the delegation said in its letter to Vilsack. “Considering the significant amount of beef produced in the Midwest, this problem could affect the beef industry nationwide. The scope and seriousness of this problem demand a federal response.”

Under the proposed National Animal Identification System, its goal is to protect “the health of U.S. livestock and poultry and the economic well-being of those industries by being able to quickly and effectively trace an animal disease to its source.”

According to the USDA, when a disease outbreak occurs, animal health officials need to know:

— Which animals are involved in a disease outbreak

— Where the infected animals are currently located

— What other animals might have been exposed to the disease

Wright said R-CALF and ICON officials are offering “a practical solution for disease management and control.”

He said they want to see disease prevented by limiting foreign sources of beef to our country.

“If imported, the cattle must be tagged or branded with a distinguishable mark, meet health codes and feed standards already required in this country,” Wright said. “Require TB testing – especially on cattle from Mexico. Test imported feed and bone meal.”

He said cattlemen have been very pleased with the current program for disease control within the United States.

They are asking the USDA to follow the directive of the current program and “leave the power of control with each state and tribal livestock office, which have been very successful over the years, but also ask for federal support of these programs with financing.”

“All cattlemen would like to see an increased surveillance of BSE and a tracking system set up for tracking interstate movement of cattle which originate in countries which have a BSE problem,” Wright said. “A disease program should be created for wildlife, which can contaminate a domestic herd of cattle.”

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