USDA maintains that the Animal Health Protection Act passed in the 2002 farm bill gives them the authority to develop a national animal identification system. But their attorneys are reconsidering earlier conclusions regarding the legal authority to require producers to report to a private entity.
There are manifold failings of USDA’s NAIS proposal, including:
- Privatization invites bias, perhaps even graft and corruption, and could be distorted in favor of meatpackers and to the detriment of farmers and ranchers.
- Privatization through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council is clearly no guarantee that such a meatpacker bias would not occur.
- No adequate safeguards have been proposed to ensure that NAIS information could not be used by packers to discriminate against small and mid-sized producers.
- Financial impacts on producers are inequitable – with much higher per head costs likely for small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers.
Animal identification for the purpose of keeping our food safe has merit. But USDA is proposing a system too easily corruptible; discriminatory and injurious to small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers; and too expensive for taxpayers, consumers, and producers.
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Center for Rural Affairs
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