The U.S. House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry held a hearing on NAIS, the National Animal Identification System a few days ago. I was alerted to this by Shannon Hayes of Grass-fed Cooking.
It appears that the Omnibus Appropriations bill includes funding for NAIS, which is a program that if mandated, will have terrible impacts on farms such as ours, and on the ability of customers to purchase meat products produced by small, local farms.
From what I understand, the NAIS program (if mandated – right now it is voluntary) would registration of any premises with steers, pigs, chickens, etc.and would involve expensive electronic tagging and record-keeping requirements. All this to track animals that small farmers like us already can track without any extra expense or paperwork. If you purchase beef from us, you know where it came from. And we know that the steers we raise were born on our neighbor’s property. That’s a pretty short chain, and there is absolutely no reason to make it more complicated – there is no “food safety” benefit for you, the customer.
According to a white paper on NAIS that was released last week by the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, the cost of the NAIS program for small producers is almost 10 times the cost for large producers.
One driving force behind this program is to help open up world markets to US beef. From what I’ve read, US beef might better be accepted by other countries if there it there is documented participation in NAIS. But is this the focus we want for our agriculture? Do we want to mandate participation in a program that will only help the largest producers sell their products on international markets, but limit the ability of customers here to have affordable access to local and responsibly raised meat? I don’t think so.
You can still comment on NAIS funding until March 16th. You can submit written testimony to the subcommittee before the hearing, at the hearing, or up to 10 days after the hearing. Send your testimony to the Hearing Clerk, Jamie Mitchell, at Jamie.Mitchell@mail.house.gov Be sure to put “March 11 Hearing – Animal Identification Programs” in the subject line. Please keep your comments clear, polite, and concise.