The fight over NAIS (the National Animal Identification System) continues to boil (over), both in Washington, D.C. and out in the states. (See Yonder articles on NAIS here and here.) NAIS would require livestock owners (chickens, hogs, cattle, horses) to tag every animal so that they can be traced. The US Department of Agriculture would like to make this program mandatory, so that sick animals can be easily traced. NAIS has been less than warmly received in rural communities — an understatement if there ever was one.
USDA has had a voluntary NAIS system in place that has had less than overwhelming response from livestock owners, especially among cattlemen and women. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has written Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack saying that as the “number two calf-cow state in the nation, Missouri cannot afford for USDA to go forward with an unproven program.” McCaskill points out that it would cost $16 a head for small cattle raisers to join the NAIS program. In mid-April, Vilsack held a roundtable to discuss NAIS.
The criticism continues. R-CALF USA has urged “Congress and USDA to immediately and completely abandon the flawed National Animal Identification System.” R-CALF (a cattle raisers group) has produced a long list of alternatives to NAIS. Vilsack says he will conduct “listening” session across the country. He’s going to get an earful.