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Farmer & Consumer Groups Praise USDA for Dropping NAIS

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Feb 09, 2010 at 16:24:14 PM PST


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Four organizations representing farmers, ranchers, and consumers issued a press release (shown below) praising the USDA for dropping its National Animal ID System. Those groups are Food & Water Watch, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, the National Family Farm Coalition, and R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America). They say that NAIS "was created by industrial livestock and meatpacking interests to shift the burden of animal disease problems onto the backs of family farmers instead of corporate agribusinesses" and "The imposition of NAIS would have severely hindered the recent movement towards more sustainable local food systems."

Furthermore, Food & Water Watch said that NAIS did not address the root cause of our food safety and animal disease problems:

"Now that the USDA has realized that the proposed NAIS was unworkable, it's time for the agency to turn its attention to an effort that would actually protect consumers," said Patty Lovera, assistant director for Food & Water Watch.  "USDA should start improving the testing of meat in slaughterhouses where many of our food safety problems occur, and fix their inspection policies to make sure that contaminated meat is traced back to the slaughterhouses were it was produced."
Jill Richardson :: Farmer & Consumer Groups Praise USDA for Dropping NAIS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FAMILY FARMERS, RANCHERS AND CONSUMERS APPLAUD USDA DECISION TO END CONTROVERSIAL ANIMAL ID PROGRAM
Groups Thank Secretary Vilsack for Listening to Real Farmers, Not Agribusiness

(February 9, 2010) - Family farmers, ranchers and consumer groups expressed pleasure with USDA's recent decision to halt the badly flawed National Animal Identification System (NAIS). For the past five years, grassroots farmers and ranchers have battled against the implementation of NAIS, which was created by industrial livestock and meatpacking interests to shift the burden of animal disease problems onto the backs of family farmers instead of corporate agribusinesses. The imposition of NAIS would have severely hindered the recent movement towards more sustainable local food systems.

Rhonda Perry, a Missouri livestock producer and National Family Farm Coalition member, praised Secretary Vilsack for listening to family farmers. Perry said, "This is a sweet victory for our democratic process and we are deeply appreciative of Secretary Vilsack for listening to our voices, especially for those of us who don't have corporate lobbyists and thousands of dollars to give in campaign contributions. NAIS has further exposed that the Big Ag groups in DC that claim to speak on behalf of family farmers are in many cases working against our best interests. In state after state, the Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association attempted to block family farmer efforts to prevent USDA from imposing NAIS. Fortunately, the voices of independent livestock producers prevailed."

USDA's release stated that "the vast majority of participants [at the listening sessions] were highly critical of the program." NAIS opponents are hopeful that USDA will continue to consult with grassroots farmers as they move forward. Judith McGeary, a Texas livestock rancher and executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, commented: "The people who opposed NAIS came from every walk of life. Small farmers, organic producers, consumers, horse owners, homesteaders, conventional ranchers, and property rights advocates, all lent their voices to the overwhelming opposition to this ill-conceived program. We hope that USDA continues to listens to the voices of real Americans, not just the usual suspects in the Agribusiness world, as it develops its plans for interstate traceability." Bill Bullard, Chief Executive Officer of Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA), added, "We are encouraged by the Secretary's statement regarding the need to also strengthen our import controls to prevent the introduction of disease through our borders."

Consumer group Food & Water Watch had also criticized NAIS for not addressing the root causes of our flawed food safety and animal disease problems. "Now that the USDA has realized that the proposed NAIS was unworkable, it's time for the agency to turn its attention to an effort that would actually protect consumers," said Patty Lovera, assistant director for Food & Water Watch.  "USDA should start improving the testing of meat in slaughterhouses where many of our food safety problems occur, and fix their inspection policies to make sure that contaminated meat is traced back to the slaughterhouses were it was produced."

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Comments like the one from Food and Water Watch (4.00 / 2)
constantly irritate me with regard to NAIS. First off, NAIS never did have anything to do with food safety.

Secondly, the one issue that the NAIS was supposed to address, the containment of disease in the population of live animals in this country, very well could have been exacerbated by the false sense of security that the NAIS would have provided. I saw evidence time after time of the push to greatly reduce or completely stop testing for some diseases because there was going to be this tremendous tracability for diseased animals. "Why test when we know all the movements of both the infected animal and those animals potentially exposed?".

Kind of reminds me of when USDA changed their position on  vaccination for pseudorabbies in swine back in the 70s. The reasoning was that it cost too much for the pig farmers to vaccinate and if there was an outbreak the fed would just come in, kill all of the pigs in the unit and compensate the pig farmer.

It doesn't adress the actual problem, it's just a work around. That's what NAIS is, a work around.

The thing that really scares me about this new approach by USDA regarding NAIS is that those of us fighting it will be lulled into a false sense of security, let our gaurd down, and one of these days wake up and not be able to move animals across state lines without a federal ID, even if it's to go to a trail ride, or a little game show.

Normal people scare me. But not as much as I scare them.....


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