Washington, D.C. In a roundtable discussion today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack listened to concerns about the agency's proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS) from representatives of various U.S. livestock industries, including R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
"NAIS is a radical departure from the highly successful, preexisting disease programs and represents an unwarranted expansion of government agency power that R-CALF USA believes is prohibited under our Constitution," Bullard asserted. "We believe NAIS is an invasive and unlawful encumbrance on commerce, and its effect is to impose additional production costs on every livestock producer, whether or not they are affected by a disease event, without affording livestock producers any means of recovering those additional production costs from the marketplace.
"R-CALF also is concerned that NAIS would subject U.S. cattle producers to enforcement and compliance costs associated with the third-party management of a colossal database within which culpability would be difficult to determine yet producers would remain subject to a command-control relationship with the third-party administrator, the federal government," he pointed out. "In addition, USDA has provided no analysis that contradicts the effectiveness of the preexisting systems that did not require producers to register their property in a federal database, nor has the agency provided any basis for asserting that such registration would function better than preexisting systems."
During the discussion, Vilsack said it is important for USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to listen and learn and that his conversations about NAIS are only beginning. He also mentioned upcoming listening sessions to be scheduled around the country, as well as more opportunities for producers to file comments about NAIS.
"We were pleased to see the number of organizations at the roundtable that find a mandatory NAIS, under USDA's proposal, would be unworkable," Bullard concluded. "The Secretary held a balanced meeting with people on both sides of the issue and appeared genuinely interested in learning what USDA can and should do to improve our U.S. livestock disease control programs. We believe the NAIS fundamentally violates and distorts the essential components of a sound and effective disease control program for U.S. livestock owners and the U.S. livestock industry. We look forward to working with the Secretary on this matter."
Note: To view/download a copy of R-CALF USA's submission at the NAIS roundtable, please visit http://www.r-calfusa.com/animal_id/090415-USDA_Roundtable.pdf
# # #
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.