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July 14, 2008

This report will attempt to catch the reader up on what has been happening with NAIS since the last update.

State Survey
The 2008 Membership Roster contains the results of the state by state survey of the NAIS situation and points of contact in each state. It is hoped that as changes occur, the NPGA NAIS Coordinator will be informed and the survey data updated.

I was informed by an NPGA member that “the IL Department of Agriculture has now decreed that ALL livestock exhibited at ALL Illinois fairs must have a premise ID number on the entry form in order to gain entry to the show.” I confirmed with Jim Kunkle (IL Dept of Agriculture, Bureau of Animal Health) that they are requiring a premises registration for exhibition at 2008 Illinois 4-H, FFA, county and state fairs.

I was informed by an NPGA member that premise ID has become mandatory for 4-H and FFA members if they are showing “market animals” at the state fair, but not mandatory for “breeding animals.” According to John Heller, Animal ID Coordinator at the CO Dept of Agriculture, NAIS compliance in CO is completely voluntary; however he says that in the event of an “animal health concern” (not defined), CO law allows for mandatory compliance with NAIS or similar system. What this apparent conflict means remains unclear.

R-CALF USA Resolutions

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA), in their spring 2008 mail-in ballot, approved (by 96-98% of the vote!) several significant modifications to the organization’s policies on animal identification:

R-CALF USA opposes implementation of NAIS through coercive or exclusionary tactics. USDA-APHIS has claimed that it intends to use federal disease control programs, breed association registries and interstate certificates of veterinary inspection (health certificates) to implement NAIS.
R-CALF USA opposes any form of a NAIS including any that infringe upon the sovereignty of the states, tribes or individuals, or that would cause the loss of inherent freedoms.
R-CALF USA will work for the passage of legislation that would prevent any department of the U.S. government from making NAIS premises registration a prerequisite for participation in state or federal programs.
R-CALF USA recommends the continuation of existing federal disease control programs for livestock. R-CALF USA opposes the harmonization of these existing systems with, or the use of, these existing systems to implement or promote NAIS.
R-CALF USA opposes any government action that funds or mandates premises registration and individual or industry participation in the NAIS.

Lawsuit against USDA

On 5/15/08, attorneys for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund sent a Notice of Intent to Sue letter to USDA and the Michigan Department of Agriculture over implementation of NAIS. The Notice asks USDA and MDA to immediately suspend the funding and implementation of NAIS and fully examine whether there is even a need for such a program.

On 7/14/08, USDA and the Michigan Department of Agriculture were sued in the U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. The suit asks the court to issue an injunction to stop the implementation of NAIS at either the state or federal levels by any state or federal agency. If successful, the suit would halt the program nationwide.

Another Lawsuit against USDA

Mary-Louise Zanoni, a New York journalist who covers family farm issues is taking the government to court to require it to keep faith with American farmers by allowing access to its premises registration records. Although USDA maintains that the premises registration portion of NAIS is voluntary, many livestock owners report that, despite their refusal to register, they have been placed in the program’s database without their knowledge or consent. Opening the lists to public scrutiny will allow farmers and animal owners to ascertain what information the government is keeping on them.

Another Back Door Move by USDA

The House of Representatives Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has included pro-NAIS provisions in the Agriculture Appropriations bill for 2009. According to a press release, the bill would require USDA to purchase meat products for the School Lunch Program from livestock premises registered with NAIS beginning in July 2009. This is a back door method for mandating NAIS through the power of the purse strings. The bill also provides a total NAIS funding level of $14.5 million or about $4.8 million above 2008. The full House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear this bill on 6/26/08; sometime after that, it will go to the full House.

Ray Hoyt
NAIS Coordinator



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