11 Sep No Mandatory Animal Identification
September 11, 2006
Press Release: Liberty Ark Coalition (426 words)
If Senator Jim Talent, and Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson, both Missouri lawmakers, get their way, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be prohibited from implementing any kind of “mandatory” animal identification program. Companion bills introduced in both the House and the Senate, require that “…the Secretary [USDA] shall not implement or carry out, and no Federal funds shall be used to implement or carry out, a National Animal Identification System, or similar requirement, that mandates the participation of livestock owners.”
“This is a real step forward,” said Karin Bergener. “The grassroots community has been working hard to get legislators to pay attention to this intrusive program USDA has been trying to implement.” Bergener, an Ohio Attorney, is also a founding member of the Liberty Ark Coalition’s steering committee. The coalition was formed in April, specifically to generate and coordinate national opposition to this USDA program.
The National Animal Identification System (NAIS), has been under development by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) and the USDA for several years. It was revealed in April, 2005, with a Draft Strategic Plan and Program Standards. The plan called for (1) registration of every premises where a single livestock animal was housed; (2) tagging each animal with an identification device; and (3) reporting of any movement of an animal from the premises within 24 hours.
Originally, this plan was to become mandatory in phases, beginning in 2007 with mandatory premises registration. Grassroots opposition forced the USDA to release an updated plan in April, 2006, that emphasized that the program was “voluntary.” but when pressed by reporters, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Mike Johanns, said the USDA had the authority to make the program mandatory if there was less than 100% voluntary participation.
The Talent-Emerson bills would prohibit the USDA from making the program mandatory, and they prohibit the use of federal funds to support state identification programs that are mandatory. Wisconsin and Indiana already have mandatory premises registration, and several other states are considering similar programs. Without federal funds, however, these state programs may be in jeopardy.
The Liberty Ark Coalition, organized in April 2006, told the Congressmen that their bills would be supported by the coalition’s 76 organizations, and more than 1100 members in all 50 states. The Coalition conducted “Town Hall” meetings in several states during August, and has launched an education campaign to help livestock owners learn how they could be impacted by both the federal and state programs.