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Missouri Farm Bureau member opposes mandatory NAIS

Article from The Marshall Democrat-News

Missouri Farm Bureau reiterated its support for a voluntary and not mandatory National Animal Identification System at the Jefferson City listening session held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The session was part of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's 13 scheduled listening sessions to be held throughout the country as his department looks to implement the NAIS.

Glen Cope, a beef producer from southwest Missouri and chairman of the Missouri Farm Bureau's Beef Advisory Committee, submitted comments saying, "Farm Bureau nationally and in Missouri believe participation in a National Animal Identification System should remain the choice of each farmer and rancher."

Cope further expressed Farm Bureau's concern with producer confidentiality, cost and liability with the implementation of NAIS, stating, "Over half of our state's agricultural receipts come from the livestock and poultry sector, hence our concern about how much animal identification will cost and who will pay the price. An adequate cost-share agreement must be established among government, industry and producers to prevent farmers and ranchers from being burdened with an unreasonable share of the cost of implementing a modern, streamlined animal identification system.

"In order for the program to be successful, producers must be assured their proprietary information will be protected from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, there must be clarity on which state and federal agencies will have access to the data. Congress should pass legislation to ensure the privacy of producers' information submitted to the NAIS from access by competitors, activist groups and governmental agencies not directly associated with animal health protection.

"We understand the importance of animal identification for disease control and eradication, but remain concerned that enhanced traceability may expose farmers and ranchers to liability issues arising from food and safety incidents occurring at the other end of the supply chain. Farmers and ranchers must be appropriately protected from the consequences of the actions of others after their animals are no longer in their own control.

"Finally, we believe producers must understand both the purpose and the procedures for participating in the NAIS. Additional federal resources for outreach would aid in this, but more important to the success of a voluntary program is USDA's approach to implementation. Through written and oral comments we have stressed the importance of engaging producers, agriculture organizations and others in the animal identification dialogue.

"Unfortunately, even when farmers and ranchers are afforded the opportunity to provide input, they feel as though USDA is not being attentive to their needs. Missouri Farm Bureau asks that you take seriously the legitimate concerns raised here today and commit to a greater level of transparency in the weeks and months ahead."

 

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