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Senators from Montana and Wyoming gutted a program that would require most livestock producers to tag their animals with electronic devices. The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously cut in half the funding for the National Animal Identification System, reports Tom Lutey of the Billings Gazette. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has argued that the tagging system would allow easy tracking of diseased animals. The USDA has spent $142 million developing the system.
NAIS is widely hated (and massively distrusted) in most ag communities. Opposition has been adamant, especially in the West. And so two western senators — Jon Tester (above), a Montana Democrat, and Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican — teamed up to do in the program by cutting funding. Tester maintains that food safety concerns center in processing plants, not in fields and pastures. “This basically cuts funding by $7.3 million,” Tester said. “It basically kind of does what I want to have done, which is take some of the steam out of this program.”
“This has Tester over the chest of NAIS with the stake in his hand and the hammer halfway toward a good swing, which is much better,” said Dan Teigan of the Western Organization of Resource Councils.