My NAIS letter

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by turtlehead, Sep 29, 2006.

  1. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    This is my first draft of a letter I plan to send to a couple of local newspapers, plus my state and federal reps. Feel free to use any of it yourself if you like. It's too long now but I thought I'd toss it out for comments. :hobbyhors

    I am writing to voice my concern about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) being promoted by the USDA. This program, implemented in 2004, is designed to identify and track every livestock animal in the US, to “protect American animal agriculture from foreign or domestic disease threats.” (USDA website). The goal is to be able to track a diseased animal back to its place of origin within 48 hours. It sounds great. It sounds safe. Reading the USDA and WV Dept. of Agriculture literature makes me want to hop right on the bandwagon.

    But wait. After brushing away all the hype and rhetoric, what does NAIS really entail? Every farm gets a premise ID, uniquely identifying it in a national database. In addition, animals must be identified. Large groups of livestock which are always moved as a unit get a single animal ID. Small farmers who may sell a few sheep at an auction must ID each animal individually. The movement of the animals is then tracked. That doesn't sound too bad.

    How might this affect me? I have a flock of chickens for eggs and meat. I have to register my premises and pay a fee. I have to fill out paperwork and note when every chick is born, and pay a fee for that too. I have to figure out how to uniquely ID each chick and pay for that. If a chick wanders off or gets killed by a coyote I have to fill out paperwork and report that. If I sell or trade a rooster, I have to report that. If one of my children wants to show an attractive chicken at a fair or use it as a 4-H project, we have to fill out paperwork and document every time the chicken leaves the premises. That sounds pretty expensive and time consuming.

    Animals subject to NAIS include cattle, bison, horses, goats, poultry, sheep, deer, elk, llamas, alpacas, swine, and aquaculture. If you take your horse to a horse show or a riding trail, you have to fill out paperwork documenting that movement. Any time one of your animals leaves your premises and comingles with other animals, it must be reported.

    I can see how this is a good program for large producers of our nation's beef or pork supply, despite the fact that we haven't had a single case of mad cow disease or avian flu in the US. It makes good management sense for them and, because they move and track huge groups of animals at a time, it is not cost prohibitive. For the small farmer, or backyard farmer, it makes no sense at all. If I buy one of my neighbor's pigs, I know exactly where that meat came from. There is no need to have it entered in a national registry. The small farmer who is already working on a tight margin will likely be driven out of business by this program because he simply does not have the money, time, or staff to deal with the required fees, tagging, and paperwork.

    This program is slated to be mandatory by 2008. I urge everyone reading this letter to educate themselves about the NAIS. Excellent starting points are http://www.usda.gov/nais/ (pro) and http://NoNAIS.org (con).
     
  2. farmergirl

    farmergirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Very well written! I'm impressed :)
     

  3. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Um...there has been mad cow and avian flu in the US. In fact, the stupid mad cow is what started the push for this. They were unable to track most of the animals that came with that cow to the US. They still don't know where they are.

    Avian flu is around just about all the time. It's just not THE avian flu, responsible for all the type. A couple years ago there was some Newcastle's disease causing problems too.

    I think it's a bit over the top to claim that small farmers will be driven out of business. It's not that hard to note in a calf book that you took Bossy to the fair, but then I have an entirely different opinion of NAIS.

    I've found that fighting a fight in the papers gets lots more creditibilty if you err on the side of constraint, instead of making wild claims...and always make sure you get your facts straight.

    Jena
     
  4. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    "Um...there has been mad cow and avian flu in the US"

    A few isolated cases...no major outbreaks and ALL of these animals were traced back to their origins WITHOUT NAIS. And NO human sickness caused by them

    'I think it's a bit over the top to claim that small farmers will be driven out of business''

    I think a lot of them will be driven out of business simply because it will be too much trouble. When the fines start rolling in they will say "Its not worth it" and just quit
     
  5. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    That part I dissagree on I will be one of the first driven out of buissness as I will not be making much $ and I have a family to support but more importantly I will not live as a SLAVE
     
  6. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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  7. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    There's no fee, so you may want to delete that.

    Also worth noting is that 4-H events, small or local shows, a trailride with the neighbor and 'the chicken crossing the road' are being said not to be reportable currently. This can be countered with the fact that the USDA has not entered these exceptions into the federal register, therefor they are not valid and still presummed reportable.

    Regarding mad cow, yes, it's here. If the USDA were so concerned with not spreading disease, mad cow in particular, they'd allow Creekstone to test their cattle. Instead, they've said no, that no one but the USDA is able to run those tests. The USDA (IMO) doesn't want anyone to know exactly how many cattle in the US may actually have mad cow. It's bad for business. NAIS gives the impression of being on top of things to other countries, therefore keeps our export business strong. The American Cattlemen's Association is very strong; the additional by products from cattle is very strong and includes everything from insulin to cosmetics. If American cattle were found to be diseased, then our economy is at risk.
     
  8. bill not in oh

    bill not in oh Well-Known Member

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    Enforcement of this program (NAIS) falls largely on the state that the animals and these events reside/occur in. We were informed four weeks prior to the 2005 county fair that all animals shown at the fair (including 4H projects) would have to be in compliance with the terms of the NAIS program including premis ID and individual animal identification and registration. The state veterinarian was present on the arrival day and following day spot-checking throughout the fairgrounds for compliance. I mentioned four weeks as this is about a minimum amount of time to file and have the registration paperwork processed, thereby pretty much eliminating any window for dialog or debate regarding the fairness or legality of the mandate. If my 11 year old was going to show her goats at the fair, they were going to be registered - I doubt that I would have found many volunteers to explain to her why she couldn't participate in the fair... I knew I wasn't going to try.

    There was a great deal of dialog, debate and feedback from a number of levels after the fact from folks that were required to comply, from folks that opted not to participate because of the requirement and most notably I suppose from the Fair Board - the lack of participation by folks that had been long-time attendees was apparantly a concern for them.

    One aspect that seems to be absent from many dialogs about NAIS is the sheer scope of the program - the number of humans that it will require for administration and enforcement; and since these folks probably won't be volunteers, the amount of money it will require to operate it. Since there are only two logical sources of revenue to pay for it (the owners of the livestock and/or taxpayers) I as a livestock owner get screwed either way. I suspect that the real cost to the government(s) of operating this program will end up being in the tens of billions of dollars (not to mention the costs to the industry of equipment, personnel and administration). The 2005 federal budget requested 33 million dollars just for furthering the research and planning of the program (up from about 19 million the year before). I read one article that compared NAIS to the national census which accounts for only about 300 million humans. The PROJECTED federal budget for the 2010 census is 11 Billion dollars. That's an approximate average of 30 million transaction a year most of which are mailed into the census bureau (with free postage). With probably 4-5 times as many units of accountable livestock (most changing locations/ownership several times a year) how many people will it take to make a program of this scope work? Or possibly a better question is: Can it be made to work? Will the government(s) actually attempt to implement the program, (1) spending billions of taxpayer dollars, (2) requiring thousands of producers, auction houses, feed lot operators, etc, etc etc to invest their own funds in equipment and adminsitration, and (3) hiring thousands of employees only to discover that it can't really work and therefor just closing it down?

    This is not an attempt to hijack this thread. I believe that the majority of folks that would read it as a news article or editorial would be mostly unimpressed with the plight of a farmer so long as they know they can go to the supermarket and buy a steak or chicken. But if you tell them Uncle Sam is knocking at the door and asking them to ante up a bunch of their hard-earned sawbucks for a program that probably can't work anyway I think you'll get more folks attention.

    And yes, avian influenza is present in the US as we type - just not the dreaded H5N1 strain.
     
  9. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

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    also ask
    When was the last time you ate horse? so why horses,

    also why not require the "GOVERNMENT" fur fish and game department, (if you shoot one of "there animals" they will let you know in short order it there animals" so why not require them to do the same, to tag and report all wild animals, they have the wasting disease, and the bird flu, and they are "free to travel farm to farm and spread there diseases" so why not start where the problem is not where it is not, people eat those animals and that is in the food chain,
    prairie dogs can carry bubonic plague, so they should be tagged as well,

    so start at the government level and get the bugs worked out and then move it in to the private sector after proving the effectiveness of the system,

    If it is so simple and easy to do, show us how it is done.

    and to be effective ever animal out there in there control needs to be identified and tagged and watched and reported ever time it moves from it original place of tagging, that is what they want the farmer to do, so I say what it good for us is good for them, and just think how much safer hunting would be if this was done as all the sick and dangerous animals could so easily be identified so no one hunting would ever be affected by a unsafe kill, and it could be traced back to it birth place,

    so all that harvest game and birds and walk in the wilderness would be safe from any and all animal born problems.
     
  10. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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  11. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Wow - great input, thanks to everyone who took the time to read that long post and contribute thoughtful dialogue. I really do appreciate it.

    I had read that avian flu and mad cow had *not* been in the US but apparently I misread the source and they were talking about major outbreaks affecting humans. Thanks for that correction.

    The points about NAIS being voluntary and trail horses being exempt, etc. are good and valid points. I don't trust that the rules will remain like this but I do want to be accurate in my letter.

    The point about the huge cost burden showing up at the supermarket is excellent. The whole point of my letter is to literally "bring home" the impact of NAIS.

    One thing I forgot to mention in my original post is that this draft would be going to my newspaper. My state and federal reps will get a different last paragraph, urging them to vote against NAIS.

    Thanks again for all the input.
     
  12. Raftercat5

    Raftercat5 Kathy in S. Carolina

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    I think the NAIS borders on the ridiculous. If they are going to hassle the small farmers along with the big cattle owners, why don't they also tackle all the stray cats & dogs, etc. in the cities? I really think there's no way the government can really keep close watch on all the farm animals. They can't keep illegal aliens out of our country, so how can they control where we bring our animals to be bred/judged/ridden, etc.? I for one will not pay any fees, and for sure, will not be tagging any chickens or guineas on my property. Let them try catching them if they want to tag them!
    - Kathy
     
  13. ceresone

    ceresone Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have a few horses (pets), a few chickens (pets) 2 cats (pets) 2 dogs (pets) none of these EVER leave our farm-yet, as I understand it--they have to be tagged? why on earth? they arent edible--will not enter into the nations food supply. but--it will stop us from buying cattle, hogs, etc--so-why isnt it hurting small farmers.? just the cost of tagging alone, is preposterous. or--do i misunderstand it all?
     
  14. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    I guess you did not read this part:

    • If your animals never leave the farm of birth or are only moved for custom slaughter for
    personal consumption, you will not be asked to identify them or report their movement.
    • Animal owners who choose to participate in the animal identification and tracking
    components of the NAIS, are not expected to report all animal movements. For instance,
    taking your animal on a trail ride with a neighbor or moving livestock from pasture to

    pasture within your operation pose a low risk of spreading disease, and therefore, are not
    reportable.•
     
  15. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Ceresone, if you misunderstand it all then so do I.

    Please don't remain silent. Write your representatives and your local paper.
     
  16. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    AK, you are correct, you don't have to report movement on your own property.
     
  17. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    That is true also going on a Small trail ride this is also not reportable either Only Large animal gatherings Like Horse Shows etc.

    For instance,
    taking your animal on a trail ride with a neighbor or moving livestock from pasture to pasture within your operation pose a low risk of spreading disease, and therefore, are not reportable