The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is a huge federal program that would require farmers and ranchers to tag their animals with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. It is still voluntary, but some states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana have already mandated some elements of the NAIS. Texas was on the verge of implementing the NAIS, but because of intense opposition and protests they have backed off. The goal is still to make it mandatory and the governments plan is to have all livestock in the U.S. tagged with a tracking database in place by 2009.
The NAIS is essentially a tax on animals that would allow the government access to detailed information on private property. It is an invasion of privacy and an assault on private property which threatens to put thousands of small independent family operated farms out of business. Once in place, failure to comply would result in hefty fines and possible property seizures.
Huge agribusiness farms support the NAIS because it will create a database and provide free industry information. Presidential hopeful Ron Paul from Texas says, “Larger livestock operations will be able to tag whole groups of animals with one ID device. Smaller ranchers and farmers, however, will be forced to tag each individual animal.” This would place further financial burdens on small independent farmers and ranchers. He also states, “NAIS applies to anyone with a single horse, pig, chicken, or goat in the backyard, no exceptions. NAIS applies to children in the 4-H or FFA.”
Under the NAIS farmers, ranchers and hobbyists would be required to resister their name, address, telephone number, and their Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates. In order to leave with any animal, the owner would have to obtain an ID number. They would be required to report on every animal that is born or dies. Is this a case of letting Big Brother in the barn?
The government says that the NAIS will help combat disease and even bioterrorism. Ron Paul said, “NAIS is not about preventing mad cow or other diseases. States already have animal identification systems in place and virtually all stockyards issue health certificates. Since most contamination happens after animals have been sold, tracing them back to the farm or ranch that sold them won't help find the sources of disease.” Furthermore, small farms usually sell locally, and any type of outbreak would be easier to track.
Big business farms support the NAIS and see it as a way to further monopolize the industry. It is part of a marketing ploy to restore consumer confidence and export more meat. The idea of it tracking disease is a farce. The NAIS program is too intrusive, costly, complicated, and unnecessary. It will translate into higher consumer prices, and will benefit corporations and industrial scale animal production facilities. It would all but destroy small farmers, ranchers, breeders, and hobbyists alike. It is yet another way to squeeze out small independent farms and monopolize America's food production supply.