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USDA Listening Sessions Public Comments

R-CALF: Producers, Public Urged To Stand Firm Against NAIS

Article from The Cattle Network

Billings, Mont. - Although R-CALF USA is pleased the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced locations for six more National Animal Identification System (NAIS) listening sessions to allow more opportunity for public input, the group remains suspicious of the agency's motives.

"These listening sessions aren't going well for USDA, as the agency is running into much more opposition to NAIS than it ever bargained for," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "But rather than announce that NAIS will be withdrawn and the remaining sessions used to develop a strategy to prevent, control and eradicate diseases, USDA persists in addressing only NAIS. We think USDA's plan continues to be to glean from everyone's comments anything good that is said about NAIS so the agency can compile a report to forge ahead and implement NAIS after making only minor tweaks to the program. 

"USDA doesn't yet get it," he asserted.

"From speaking with our members who have participated in the listening sessions, we understand that after each morning session where the public is given three minutes to express their concerns, USDA is dividing the audience into three groups during the afternoon and is then trying to get the audience to focus only on USDA's own questions on how to improve NAIS," Bullard continued.

"When the audience agrees to begin focusing on USDA's specific questions, the fact that NAIS is totally unacceptable and fundamentally flawed becomes of secondary importance," he emphasized.

"In other words, if USDA is allowed to frame the debate to that of focusing only on how to fix NAIS, then our opportunity to stop NAIS in its tracks is weakened," Bullard explained. "To counter USDA's plan, the audience must stand firm and demand that USDA overturn NAIS in its entirety and demand that USDA make a public announcement that it will no longer pursue NAIS. 

"The audience should further inform USDA that after NAIS has been scraped completely, then U.S. livestock producers would be happy to sit down with USDA to develop an overall strategy to improve the United States' ability to prevent, control, and eradicate livestock diseases and to develop a separate strategy to improve the safety of meat," he pointed out.

The participants at the listening sessions that have been held so far have done just this, and USDA is now frustrated in its inability to get the audience to focus only on how to improve its fundamentally flawed NAIS proposal. This is probably why more NAIS-specific sessions have been planned - to give USDA another bite at the apple to accomplish its goal of gleaning positive comments out of people who understand that NAIS fundamentally violates the rights and freedoms of U.S. livestock producers.

"It is a sad day in America when USDA arrives to tell you that, after more than 200 years, U.S. livestock producers don't know how to raise healthy livestock," Bullard concluded. "This is your industry so stand your ground! We will win this fight, but it will take all of us to do it. If you are within driving distance of one of the upcoming listening sessions, we urge to attend and make your opposition heard."

USDA has announced additional NAIS listening sessions as follows: June 9, Jefferson City, Mo.; June 11, Rapid City, S.D.; June 16, Albuquerque, N.M.; June 18, Riverside, Calif.; June 25, Raleigh, N.C., and, June 27, Jasper, Fla. The exact location where each of the new listening session will be held within each of the listed cities is not yet known.


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