NAIS Updates From the Front Line
© Doreen Hannes
On December 19th, 2007, the USDA issued new documents in the Federal Register regarding NAIS. These are the "NAIS Business Plan" and new "User Guide" which you will find at the USDA's NAIS site, http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/index.shtml. These documents go hand in hand with the Federal Register notice of July 18th regarding the final rule on AIN's called, "Livestock Identification; Use of Alternative Numbering Systems". (search the Federal register for the text)
Reading these documents leaves no doubt as to where NAIS is going and how it will get there. The USDA is to finally be commended for being somewhat forthright in their publications at long last.
To sum it up in a rather succinct fashion, the current game plan is to require compliance with NAIS through the registration of your property as a premise and attachment of NAIS "840" tags to your animals as a requirement of engaging in interstate commerce in any way.
Here are some of the particular points in these documents. NAIS premise registration will be required for movement of livestock across state lines with the required ICVI (interstate certificate of veterinary inspection) See pages 19,27,30,32,33,34 and especially page 53 of the Business Plan PDF to read about this for yourself. Please note that if you are reading it on your computer you will need to add 4 pages to the page number I have given.
Of tremendous import, in February of 2008, yes, a few weeks from now, the USDA intends to publish a proposed rule for rolling all animal identification numbering into NAIS compliant "840" numbering. This will include all mandatory disease control programs, including, Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, Pseudo Rabies, Scrapie and Avian Influenza.
To help get all animals (and your real estate) into the program, the USDA will be focusing on having all the breed registries roll their identification into NAIS beginning in March of 2008. I have checked out the American Dairy Goat Association site and on the USDA link it will show a beautiful placement of AIN USAXXXXXXXXXXXX (it is indeed 15 characters) for your registered dairy goats. Also of note, membership numbers are conveniently seven digit numbers. I guess it's a good thing all of my registered goats died in a horrible barn fire.
Please don't take my sarcasm for surprise in anyway. I'm not surprised at all.. I am, however, completely disgusted.
Here is one of many excerpts from the Federal register Final Rule on AIN's from July 18th, 2008 that shows how certain this course of action is for the USDA:
"Because a uniform animal identification numbering system is
needed to make the NAIS successful, we do intend that, in the future,
only the ``840'' AIN will be recognized for official use…."
Page 36 of the Business Plan let's you know that the USDA means business. They contract with the states, and have this to say regarding the Cooperative Agreement, note the last sentence:
"APHIS-VS provides Federal support for NAIS implementation activities and infrastructure within each State, Tribe, or Territory through a Federal funding instrument referred to as a cooperative agreement. This differs from a grant in that grant recipients follow Federal guidelines but are more independent in using the funds. With a cooperative agreement, both parties contribute to the successful completion of the project as outlined in the application and mutually agreed-upon work plan. Cooperative agreement awards require quarterly reporting and engagement of Federal oversight in the successful completion of the goals, objectives, and description of efforts outlined in the work plan. Beginning with fiscal year 2008, this draft business plan will uniquely serve as a blueprint for the development of work plans associated with NAIS implementation cooperative agreement funding."
It is important to note that as of this writing, the USDA has -no- specific authorization to enact the National Animal Identification System. They claim it comes through the AHPA which passed as part of the 2002 Farm Bill, yet there is no specifically granted authority for the Secretary of Agriculture to assign a permanently attached Federal number to your property and call it a premise, nor to require that you electronically identify your animals, nor to require that you report animal movements on or off of your property to any entity whatsoever. If the Senate version of the '07 Farm Bill passes through committee as written, NAIS will have it's first mention in actual statute and that will authorize the USDA to actually do this program.
Cattle are listed as the highest priority in NAIS. This is commensurate with the international guidelines calling for cattle first and then other ruminants. The Business Plan has timelines and benchmark numbers set for cattle and all other species broken down on page 55 of the Business Plan.
Due to space, I will only hit a few salient points from the User Guide. first, the merging of all disease control programs is repeatedly referenced as noted below:
(page 26 of the User Guide pdf)
"The PIN is being incorporated as the standard location identifier in all Federal livestock and poultry disease programs……States and Tribes also have the option of allowing industry organizations or groups or other interested third parties to assist with collecting and entering premises data…."
Trickle down NAIS will move forward easily since many breed registries will incorporate "840" official identification into their registries along with the health paper and disease program roll ins. Remember, it is a felony to remove an official identification device:
(from page 30)
. " Producers who purchase animals and bring them into their operation will maintain the official identification already on the animal — no additional identification or change of identification of those animals should occur."
Note the command form of "will", it is not the permissive "may" as it would be were NAIS capable of actually being voluntary.
On page 25 there is no allusion to the false "Opt Out" option that USDA was touting as part of it's attempt to make NAIS into a kinder, gentler, more voluntary program under the first User Guide:
"It is important to remember that the premises identification number (PIN) is assigned permanently to a physical location. If an owner or entity sells his/her farm, the next operators of the premises use the original premises identification number that had been assigned to that location. If the seller buys a new location to build a new operation that never had livestock, he/she would register that location and obtain a new premises identification number (PIN)."
What this actually does to real estate will probably be decided in a court room. What it does to the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens will certainly be decided in the courts.
The part of NAIS that will remain voluntary is whether or not you desire to engage in commerce of livestock in any way. Hardly anyone will be able to avoid purchasing new breeding stock at some point. We'll end up with a bunch of unthrifty inbred stock and have to purchase new stock from black market breeders risking heaven only knows what kinds of fines and penalties should our criminality be discovered.
(page 31 of pdf):
“Animals that never leave the farm or are only moved directly to custom slaughter for personal consumption do not need to be officially identified. In such cases, these movements have little impact on the potential spread of disease and the traceability, if necessary, is adequate. (State requirements for custom may differ from this Federal guidance.
“Animals that do not leave their birth premises (e.g., die and are buried at their birth place) do not need to be identified.”
It's my hope that this breakdown is helpful to your understanding of how imminent the threat of NAIS is to your life and livelihood. There are many, many more points that should be covered for full understanding of these documents.
Opponents of NAIS have continually been accused of spreading "misinformation". When pressed about what it was that we were "misinforming" people about, Under Secretary Bruce Knight told Ray Cunio, "Don't believe what you read. Believe what I say". If you believe that, I have a "NAIS How to Handbook" you should read.