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UPDATE  on Appropriations Provision to Link NAIS to the School Lunch Program

The House Appropriations Committee adjourned on Thursday without reaching the Agriculture Appropriations bill. The reason was a partisan flare-up between the Ranking Member, Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and the Chair, David Obey (D-WI), dealing with the Interior Appropriations bill.  It's not clear what will happen with any of the appropriations bills now.

This delay gives us more time to build support for an amendment to take out the provision linking NAIS to the School Lunch Program.  Whether you are a farmer or consumer, individual or non-profit organization, now is the time to speak up!
 
More information about this issue and how you can take action is below.  

TAKE ACTION

1) Call or fax all the members of the House Appropriations Committee who come from your State.  The members are listed, in order by state, at http://farmandranchfreedom.org/content/House_Approps_08
 
2)  Call or fax your US Representative.  You can look up who represents you at www.congress.org or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 866-340-9281.
 
3) Call or fax your Senator if he or she is on the Senate Appropriations Committee.  The members are listed, in order by state, at
http://farmandranchfreedom.org/content/Senate_Approps_08    
 
If no one from your State is on one of the Committees, then contact the Chairs and Ranking Members (the names are bolded in the lists:
Representatives Obey (WI) and Lewis (CA), and Senators Byrd (WV) and Cochran (MS)).
 
With each person, ask to speak to the staffer who handles appropriations. If you get their voice mail, leave the following message, or something in your own words that makes the same points:
 
MESSAGE:  My name is _______.  I am a constituent [or live in your state, if you aren't in their district].  I am calling because the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee has inserted language requiring the School Lunch Program to only buy meat from farms registered in the National Animal Identification System, or NAIS.  I am against NAIS, and I do not want it to be tied to school lunch programs.  NAIS, which tracks live animals, will not improve food safety because most food safety problems start at the slaughterhouse and food processing facilities.  Funding for NAIS, particularly any mandatory NAIS, needs to be stopped.  Please call me back at _________.
 
 
When you talk to the staffer, be sure to make the same points as in the message, and expand on them with some of the talking points below.  Ask the Representatives to help get the NAIS provisions stripped from the bill, and ask the Senators to not put NAIS in the Senate Appropriations bill.
 
 
ORGANIZATIONS --  Sign on to Letter Opposing Linking NAIS to the School Lunch Program! 
 
Sixty-two organizations, including the Weston A Price Foundation and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, have signed on to a letter opposing the provision linking NAIS to the School Lunch Program.  The letter with those signatures was delivered to the Committee members on June 25, and the deadline for signing on has been extended because of the delay in the Committee hearing.
 
If your organization is willing to sign on, please email [email protected] or [email protected] by MONDAY, JULY 7. 
 
You can read the letter at
http://farmandranchfreedom.org/content/files/SignOnLetter080625.pdf

If you have questions, call Judith at 866-687-6452 or Irene at 202-543-5675.

 
This letter is for non-profit organizations.  If you are a for-profit entity, farm, ranch, or individual, please take the steps listed above for individuals to take action.  Thank you!

TALKING POINTS FOR CALLS AND FAXES
 
In addition to the message above, here are some more talking points about why the NAIS provisions in the Agriculture Appropriations bill should be taken out.  Pick one or two to focus on, and put them in your own words!
 
*  This bill uses the government's power to economically coerce farmers into NAIS. That is not a "voluntary" program.

*  This bill throws good money after bad, supporting a program that is not sound economically or scientifically.

*  USDA has presented no science to back up its claims that NAIS will address livestock diseases.

*  The USDA has never completed a cost/benefit analysis to show that NAIS is worthwhile.

*  NAIS will not improve food safety.  The massive Hallmark/Westland beef recall this past year was caused by the slaughterhouse employees' failure to follow existing regulations for handling "downer" cows. Mandating NAIS on cattle producers will not make anybody obey the laws we already have.

*  NAIS will not help Americans compete in the world market.  If it is mandatory, or even adopted by most producers, those who participate will not get premiums for their meat.
 
*  Pouring more money into the program is a waste of precious tax dollars that could be better spent on safety inspections at packing and processing plants, where most food contamination occurs.
 
* Using the school lunch program to force farmers into NAIS undermines the growing farm-to-school program, which helps children get fresh, local, and sustainably raised foods.  Local farmers should not be forced into an unpopular program that has nothing to do with food quality or safety in order to provide food for our children.
 
*  The claim that USDA has achieved 33% of its Premises Registration goal is wrong.  USDA computes its percentage of premises registered based on farmers who answer the agriculture census.  Hundreds of thousands of additional horse owners, families with a few chickens, suburbanites with a pet pot-bellied pig, and others like them are technically covered by NAIS, but USDA ignores them when it reports its supposed successes to Congress.  The vast majority of people who will be impacted by NAIS either oppose it or are still unaware of it!
 
* NAIS has never been specifically approved by Congress.  This massive program, which will impact millions of people, should be addressed through full and open debate, not snuck in through appropriations.