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MRCC Commends USDA for Abandoning
the National Animal Identification System

Direct Result of Grassroots Opposition

by Tim Gibbons

Columbia, Missouri

On Friday, February 5th, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the cancelation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) due to producer and consumer concerns, and will instead "revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we heard".

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 and food safety onto the backs of family farmers instead of corporate agribusinesses.

“The decision to scrap this program is a direct result of grassroots opposition by producers and concerned consumers across the country,” said Rhonda Perry, program director of MRCC and livestock and grain farmer from Howard County, MO. “MRCC livestock producer members along with thousands of producers across the country voiced stringent opposition to this unwanted and unnecessary program and their voices were heard.”

300+ livestock producers and concerned consumers attended the NAIS Listening Session in Jefferson City, MO on June 9th. 55 Missouri citizens testified to USDA with 54 in opposition to NAIS and 1 in support. 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 independent farmers as they move forward.

As USDA abandoned NAIS, they said they would start over in trying to devise a livestock tracking program that would have support from throughout the industry. Many aspects of the new program will apparently be left to the states. “MRCC and other family farm groups will be diligent in our efforts to ensure that the new program will meet the needs of independent producers and consumers without creating undue burdens on family farmers.”

In addition to Secretary Vilsack, MRCC would also like to thank Senator Claire McCaskill for standing in opposition to NAIS with her letter to Secretary Vilsack expressing her concerns regarding the USDA’s proposed rule to fully implement NAIS, and requesting that USDA hold a NAIS Listening Session in Missouri.

Published in In Motion Magazine February, 2010.

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