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Not very NAIS

New rule means some won’t participate at fair

By Victoria A.F. Camron | Longmont Times-Call

Cassidy Younggreen, 13, of Broomfield will not be sending any goats to the Boulder County Fair this year because of a new requirement to register the animals and farms in the National Animal Identification System. Lewis Geyer/Times-Call

LONGMONT — To enter her children’s goats in this year’s Boulder County Fair, Kellyjo Younggreen would have to register her Broomfield farm with the federal government.

So, even though Cassidy, 13, and Ryan, 11, won 10 awards at last year’s fair — not counting the awards Cassidy won for her rabbits — the family won’t be competing at the Boulder County Fairgrounds this year.

For the first time, the county fair is requiring all entrants for livestock competitions — except rabbits and dogs — to have premises identification numbers, or PINs.

Premises registration is the first step in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Identification System. When a property owner, such as Younggreen, registers for a PIN, she must provide contact information; tell what operations are conducted on her property, such as production, exhibition or slaughter; and tell what species she keeps on the property.

NAIS is designed to enable a quick response to any animal-disease emergency and is a voluntary program — unless you are involved in 4-H and want to compete in a county fair in Boulder, Adams or Larimer counties, or in the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. Then, premises registration is required.

“It probably will be their last year in 4-H,” Younggreen said, explaining that showing animals is a requirement of 4-H.

Not competing also creates a financial problem, because competitors who sell their livestock get money for next year’s project.

“Because of the premises ID, I can’t sell the meat pens,” Cassidy said, referring to a competition in which a group of three rabbits is judged on the quality of their meat.

The USDA administers 4-H, so 4-H is supporting NAIS and requiring premises registration for livestock projects, according to a 4-H document on Colorado State University’s Web site.

Richard Biella, president of the Boulder County Fair board, said premises registration and animal identification — the second step in NAIS — will help officials trace animals that had contact with others if they become ill.

“It helps protect not only the owner of the livestock, but it helps protect the consumer,” Biella said.

Only a few 4-H members have withdrawn from competition this year because of the premises-registration requirement, Biella said. Whenever a new rule is implemented, someone won’t like it, he added.

“That’s just part of life,” he said. “It’s unfortunate.”

The Younggreen children bred nine goats and four rabbits in anticipation of this year’s fair, Cassidy said. They learned of the rule change in January but had started breeding in October, Kellyjo Younggreen said.

“They were going to show the llamas this year, too,” Younggreen said.

The Younggreens are not the only family refusing to register their property or participate in NAIS.

Debbie Taylor’s children, 11-year-old son Tyler and 10-year-old daughter Dakota, also raise goats they have shown at the Boulder County Fair. When the goats are just 3 days old, Tyler and Dakota choose the goats they want to enter for competition, Debbie Taylor said.

She had not paid much attention to NAIS until the family tried to register for the fair, she said.

After learning more about the program, which she considers intrusive, Debbie Taylor decided not to participate.

“I kind of feel like the government doesn’t need to know every move I make,” she said. “We (would) have to report every time we leave the farm and how many animals we take.”

Because she wanted the kids to compete in the fair, though, she appealed in writing to the CSU Extension office and the Fair Board, arguing that NAIS violates the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment.

“Many Christians and persons of other religious beliefs cannot comply with the NAIS because it violates the free expression of their religious beliefs,” Taylor wrote, citing the Amish.

Although her appeal to the fair board was refused, she still was hopeful Wednesday.

“They keep working their animals because we keep hoping something will happen,” Taylor said.

 

Victoria Camron can be reached at 303-684-5226 or [email protected].

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