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Opinion: Tell 'em 'no national animal ID'

By Juliet Fletcher

Article from The Northe Platte Bulletin

They can't say Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns doesn't have pull with the United States Department of Agriculture.

Sen. Johanns thought Nebraska had been snubbed when the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) listening sessions were scheduled and he requested one be placed in Nebraska.

In his letter to Ag Secretary Vilsack, Johanns reminded him Nebraska produces 20 percent of the U.S. beef, is the country's largest beef exporter, and is fifth in U.S. pork production.

Last week, that request was honored and the announcement was made for a NAIS Listening Session on Tuesday, June 30 at the Embassy Suites Omaha - LaVista, 12520 Westport Parkway.

At this time, this is the last scheduled opportunity for producers to express their dissatisfaction with the invasive, costly, time-consuming, property rights grabbing, size-discriminatory system.

According to the USDA, NAIS listening sessions are designed to gather feedback from producers to assist USDA in making decisions on the direction of animal identification and traceability in the US. However, all the listening sessions held so far have morphed into a long-line of speakers who overwhelmingly are against a federally-mandated program for identifying and tracking animals.

Currently, NAIS is a voluntary program - one that has not had much success getting animal owners to volunteer, even after spending $135 million dollars to entice volunteerism.

However, we keep hearing NAIS is only a "stroke of the pen away from mandatory."

At the Loveland, Colo. listening session I asked Dr. Morris, the USDA official in charge of fielding questions, if the Secretary of Agriculture could make it mandatory overnight.

He selected his words carefully before he replied, "The Secretary of Agriculture has statutory authority to make the program mandatory."

Translated, that means, any person or organization currently supporting a voluntary program would eventually be supporting a mandatory program. It was never the intent of USDA to leave this a voluntary program.

Nebraska WIFE urges producers, consumers, privacy rights advocates, animal input suppliers, and all other interested parties to put the June 30 NAIS listening session on their calendars and prepare to express their opposition to the NAIS program.

Remember, NAIS is not a food safety issue. NAIS is not an export tool. NAIS will either drive up the price of food or drive small producers off the land.

This is the last NAIS listening session and the USDA still doesn�t have anything to use to make the program better.

The only solution that has been consistently offered is to scrap the national program and allow each state to blend existing identification programs into a working state program which is accessible to the USDA if there is an animal disease outbreak.

Isn't it time we all stood together and JUST SAID NO to NAIS?

By Pam Potthoff, Trenton

Potthoff is a farmer/ranch wife and past president of the national organization, "Women Involved in Farm Economics," which is dedicated to promoting prosperity for family farms and ranches.

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