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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

NAIS Op Ed Piece

NAIS and What It Means To You
Jennifer Smith, Capriherb Farm
January 19, 2006

Until recently NAIS (National Animal Identification System) was something that was non-existent.

This article hopefully will explain a bit about NAIS and how it will affect you!

The USDA has a Department called the Animal Plant Health and Inspection Services (APHIS). This Department is charged with protecting the National Food Chain, among other things.

A few years ago, there was an outbreak in England of Hoof and Mouth Disease. If you remember, several million animals were destroyed because of this outbreak. At that time, the USDA and APHIS took a look at the US food chain and decided that a "trace back" system was needed. Not only to protect the consumer but to also protect the National Livestock Industry.

In goats, we were affected because Scrapie is a disease that can have large financial affects with the sheep. And because goats "can" possibly get Scrapie, they were included. This was the beginning of a plan by APHIS to give all goats a uniform Identification so that if an animal were to be found (and there has never been a case of a goat getting Scrapie unless co-mingled with sheep), that herd/flock could be identified and tested.

The ADGA Board of Directors was very involved in this and worked to create a Unique Tattoo Policy which was approved by APHIS. It cost several hundred thousand dollars to get this implemented at ADGA.

Today, if you take your goats to market and don't take your registration certificates, or they aren't available, the auction house (and sometimes even if you do provide papers) will tag each of your goats so they will have a "trace back" to your farm if an animal shows up with a "reportable" disease such as Scrapie, Anthrax, Hoof & Mouth Disease, etc. To date, there has NEVER been a case in the USA!

In other words, our "national herd" is clean.

Because of the outbreak in Canada of a cow with BSE was found in the NW, the APHIS felt that more was needed, and developed a new program called NAIS.

That's the history. Now for what NAIS is and what impact it has on you and your farm.

>From the NAIS website ):

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is a national program intended to identify specific animals in the United States and record their movement over their lifespans. It is being developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and State agencies-in cooperation with industry-to enable 48-hour traceback of the movements of any diseased or exposed animal. This will help to ensure rapid disease containment and maximum protection of America's animals."

This all sounds very good and well on the surface, but it has implications that are far reaching and very scary to all of us! A Draft Proposal was launched April of last year.
Draft pdf 1
Draft pdf 2
In it is found what the Federal Government is doing, plans to do,
and has already done. It is very disturbing, to say the least!

The Draft says basically that every animal in the United States will have to be tagged in a way that can be easily read. This includes all fowl, alpacas, llamas, deer & elk, equines, cattle, sheep, swine, and goats! The USDA has also already intruded into your farm by targeting all land and owners through Global Positioning Satellites! What this proposes is that EVERY
owner of even a pet chicken register their "premises" with their State Government, who will pass this information on to the USDA. And every animal be uniquely identified as well. The goal is to have a trace back of any of these animals within a 48 hour period.

What does this mean to you as an animal owner? You will be forced to register your farm (premises) with the State. And give an inventory of every animal on your premises. The Government will be allowed by law to come to your farm at any time and check your inventory. This inventory will be required to be updated and reported within a 24 hour period. So if you decide to barbecue buckyboo, you will have to report it. If you have a coon
kill a chicken, you will be required to report it within 24 hours. If you have a doe die in labor, report it! And if your farm inventory doesn't match what is on record, then you will face misdemeanor charges, which could include jail time!

The implications become even worse if you dare take an animal off your farm. If you decide to ride your horse over to the neighbor's, you must report it within 24 hours. If you go to a show, you will have to report that movement within 24 hours. And even worse, if that could possibly be said, is the show will have to report every single animal at their show, within 24 hours. So if there is a county fair, the fair officials will have to report every
SINGLE animal as it comes onto the fairgrounds, then every animal again, as it leaves and where it leaves to. So terminal goats will have to be reported as to where they go as well. Does it get any worse? Well, yes it does. The USDA also will give special "premises numbers" to those who don't normally house animals but have contact with them. Do you have your feed delivered? Your feed store will have to have a premises number and report that they have delivered feed to your farm within 24 hours of doing so. Your Veterinarian will have to report every time you come to their office with
your goat. And report every time they visit your farm!

The draft proposal also will not allow tattoos as they can not be readily seen from a distance. In Texas they are already discussing putting radio tags on every animal. Those tags will be paid for by the farmer. And we all know that tags on goats ears last about 2 weeks if you have a goat that likes to chew. I can't even imagine how long a tag will last on a chicken'sleg! Even if they aren't radio tags, EVERY animal will need to be tagged.

There are several problems with this Draft Proposal. First, it goes against everything American. It goes against our right to privacy. It states that this information will be public, so any PETA organization will have access to that data. If you barbecue a goat, will your local PETA chapter be at your door? It also denies YOU, the farmer, the right to privacy on your property.

Secondly it puts a huge financial burden on you as a farmer. The program is called an "Unfunded Mandate", meaning the bulk of the cost will be born by the end user, YOU! The 48 hour trace back is dependant upon computers and it is being proposed that all this be done by the farmer via computer. If you aren't connected to the internet, I don't know what you will be doing. And the cost of the tags, having all your animals that die be documented for no
reportable diseases, etc will all be born by you.

This is a "Draft Proposal" right now. It is NOT law yet! But Ohio is working diligently to make this a reality in our state. The web-site for Ohio is:

If you want to comment on the NAIS, I encourage you to contact the following people:

Ohio Department of Agriculture
Division of Animal Industry
Animal Identification System
8995 E Main Street
Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068

The State and Federal Congress and your Congressman can be found inside most Phone books.

On a Federal Level, your Ohio US Senators are:
Mike DeWine
140 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

George V. Voinovich
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The USDA is:

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Washington, DC 20250

Or Office of the Director
Terri Teuber Rm 402-A,Whitten Building
Washington, DC 20250-1301

The President is:

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

This really sounds like some scheme that Marx or Lenin has made up and that it could never happen in the USA. But it will become reality on July 2008 if we don't all contact our representatives and protest this very invasive intrusion into all of our lives!

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