Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
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February 9, 2010

USDA Announces New Framework For Animal Traceability!

On February 5, 2010, the USDA announced that it was dropping its plan for the National Animal Identification System, (NAIS) and turning its attention to developing “a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability.”

While the NAIS plans called for tracking every livestock animal in the country, the USDA stated that its new plan will apply only to animals moved in interstate commerce.  In a conference call with concerned organizations, Secretary Vilsack stated that the new plan will seek to be able to trace animals back to the State they came from, and that any additional traceback will be left to the State.  The Secretary also stated that NAIS had received a “failing grade” and that he does not intend to use preferential funding to the States to implement it.

You can read more details from USDA at:

USDA has admitted that “the vast majority of participants [in the listening sessions] were highly critical” of NAIS and claims that its new approach “honors the very legitimate concerns of the American public and those in Rural America.”   From the listening sessions to State anti-NAIS bills to the Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuit challenging the legality of NAIS, the USDA faced pressure on a variety of fronts to drop this program.  The change in USDA policy is due to the thousands of people who spoke up in opposition to NAIS, and each of you deserves credit.  Thank you for taking action!

Although this is a significant victory, the issue of electronic tagging and tracking of livestock is not over.  Livestock owners face continuing problems with the programs that are already in place in Wisconsin and Michigan, which will require a change in those states’ laws to fix.  The agribusiness and technology companies will undoubtedly push for burdensome regulations, both in the new USDA framework and at the State level, so we still have a lot of work to do.  Please stay tuned for more information and action steps.



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