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NATIONAL ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (NAIS)
Updated: January 23, 2006
By Ray Hoyt

In the Summer 2005 issue of Memo, I ran an article entitled “National Animal Identification System.” The USDA officially recognized this program on 11/8/04. The following livestock species are affected: camelids (llamas & alpacas), cattle & bison, cervids (deer & elk), equine, goats, poultry, sheep and swine. The system comprises three key components, to be sequentially established over time:

• Premises Identification
• Animal Identification
• Animal Tracking from Premises to Premises

Premises Identification, already underway, is done through state veterinarians, who have been trained by USDA in a standardized registration system. THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS THE SCRAPIE PREMISES REGISTRATION. This Premises Identification system registers premises with a seven-character number which will be integrated into a nationwide database.

The second phase of this system is the Animal Identification portion. USDA has been saying, through all of this, that “industry” will determine which type of identification method works best for each species. These methods could include radio frequency identification tags (microchips), retinal scans, DNA, tattoos, eartags, or others. The troubling aspect of this is that USDA is attempting to move to a standard way to identify animals. Their ultimate goal is to create an effective, uniform system, that, they say, will help maintain the health of U.S. herds and flocks. For purposes of “industry” participation in developing the identification system, “working groups” have been established for each species. For goats, the Goat Working Group (GWG) is operational, chaired by Linda Campbell (representing ADGA) from Luray, VA. I am a member of this group; I have been designated by the NPGA Board of Directors to represent the interests of our national membership. There are 20 members of the GWG. I have the latest roster with where they are from, email addresses, and whom they represent.

At the outset, USDA said that participation in this entire system is voluntary. Word continues to circulate that, at some point, compulsory will likely replace voluntary with respect to regulations that USDA might impose. Neil Hammerschmidt, a USDA representative has said, just a few weeks ago, that the Secretary of Agriculture had no intention of moving beyond the voluntary phase of this plan. Can we take that to the bank?

There are a number of developments of which our members should be aware:

1) The website (www.animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais) provides much information promulgated by USDA on the whole program.

2) The United Animal Owners Alliance is circulating an online petition addressed to both the Congress and USDA, claiming that the NAIS, including USAIP & NAID, is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, among other things. The petition can be found at:
www.unitedanimalownersalliance.com/petitions.html.

On the UAOA homepage, click on Petitions; and then on Stop Animal Identification Now.
3) A brand new organization - United States Animal Identification Organization - has been formed which claims to be working with every segment of the animal industry and the animal health authorities, and seeks to manage the industry-led animal identification movement database as prescribed by NAIS. USAIO has already submitted a Memorandum of Understanding to USDA presuming to develop and operate the database on industry’s behalf! The obvious questions that surface:

- Is USDA complicit in forming USAIO?

- Is the cattle industry behind USAIO because they object to USDA maintaining any database due to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reasons?

- How can USAIO presume to represent industry with whom they do not interface?

4) A Goat Working Group chat group is operational where we, as GWG members, can exchange information, opinions, etc. with each other. A number of GWG members have already weighed in on their total nonsupport of any eartag requirement for goats.

5) The Goat Working Group has a new website (usanimalid.com) to provide information of general interest on the NAIS. Comments that are generated from this website are forwarded to all GWG members. I receive and read all of these email comments. New additions to the website are added almost daily as more GWG members submit their contributions. I am submitting photos and current NPGA tattoo and microchip requirements for inclusion on this site.

6) One of our GWG members from Oklahoma has recently reported that the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture is saying that USDA will approve a radio frequency identification device in a button eartag “in a few weeks” for some species, including goats. No one can confirm or deny this information.

PLEASE SEND ME YOUR FEEDBACK ON NAIS. IT WILL HELP ME REPRESENT YOU BETTER.

 

 
 

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