Billings, Mont.The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has partnered with Allflex, a private multinational firm that manufactures and sells ear tags in more than seven countries, to help Allflex market, promote and sell ear tags to U.S. cattle producers. Both USDA and Allflex contributed $10,000 or more to become "Platinum Level" sponsors of the private industry conference ID ˆ™INFO EXPO 2009 to be held August 25-27 at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo. Among the stated purposes of the conference is to further participation in USDA's National Animal Identification System (NAIS), a program that would significantly increase the market demand for ear tags.
"This is a perfect example of how USDA is inappropriately using taxpayer dollars to further the interests of private multinational companies," said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group's animal health committee. "This huge contribution clearly shows that USDA is catering to the interests of multinational corporations to the exclusion of the hard-working men and women who are being besieged both by ear tag companies and USDA to force them to comply with NAIS."
In each of the 14 NAIS listening sessions held throughout the U.S. during May through June, overwhelming opposition was raised by U.S. farmers and ranchers against the USDA's NAIS program.
"Despite this overwhelming opposition, and despite repeated pleas from U.S. farmers and ranchers that USDA cease catering to the interests of multinational corporations and begin listening to the concerns of U.S. citizens, the agency obviously is forging ahead to help its corporate friends," Thornsberry said.