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Farmers & Ranchers Mobilizing to Stop USDA's 'Big Brother' National Animal Identification System (NAIS)

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) has been alleged as a three component program, premises enrollment, animal identification, and animal tracing. Now, a fourth part is coming out of the dark. USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight has promised the NAIS program is easy to enroll and totally voluntary on the federal level, "if ... enough livestock owners enroll so it does not have to go mandatory."

The fourth component is meticulously touched by Knight, "If USDA decides to make all or parts of the NAIS mandatory, APHIS [Animal and Plant Health Inspection  Service] will follow the normal rulemaking process."

With rules, laws,  inspections, taxes, regulations, or licensing comes next, the fourth component ... Enforcement. NAIS policing is not a happy subject, especially when the first component is not setting well with the majority. It is more serious for those who want to know the NAIS price tag, before they permanently enroll.

In 2007, the U.S. spent nearly one trillion dollars in enforcements, policing, investigations, and mandatory compliances. Although this was a huge expense to the citizenry, the fines, penalties, licenses, and private property confiscations were an equally swelling amount. The current "rulemaking process" for USDA is found online at Cornell University Law School. Civil penalties enforceable by USDA for a mandatory NAIS are allowed for each case, $50,000, $250,000 and $500,000, with up to 10 years in prison.

Penalties appropriate to the violation is a cornerstone fundamental of the U.S. judicial system. However, enforcement is totally capricious with USDA. One could be fined in county court $1,000 for a 60 mile per hour speed violation through a school zone, yet $50,000 for crossing a state line with one number incorrect on a USDA issued livestock health certificate-for a perfectly healthy child's pony! Dr. Max Thornsberry, president of R-CALF USA, says, "The USDA is a runaway agency out of control, with total disregard for U.S. citizens." 

Producers have been mystified by the massive amount of grants and  funds (cooperative agreements) doled by USDA to get NAIS to mandatory. The  nearly $150,000,000 used to promote enrollment looks large, but ... it would only take 300 violations of $500,000 each to quickly earn it back. U.S. leaders watch other government trends to create new laws and taxation. Government animal ID systems have been urged in a few countries prior to the marketing of NAIS in the U.S. Australia, the only country to have implemented electronic tagging and tracking as proposed by USDA, is a prototype for enforcement.

Stephen Blair, director of the Angus Society of Australia, was recently fined $17,300. He was prosecuted by Australian Minister McDonald for moving cattle from one of his ranches  wearing ID tags from his other ranch to a livestock auction. No diseased or stolen livestock were involved.

This is a tiny example of the  enforcement USDA could wield over U.S. livestock producers if NAIS was exacted mandatory.

Part of the title for Bruce Knight, is "REGULATORY  PROGRAMS." This explains his tigerish priorities for the income-generating fourth component of NAIS ... Enforcements.

The USDA/APHIS policing  division is the Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) with headquarters  in Raleigh, NC, Fort Collins, CO, and Riverdale, MD. IES boasts of increasing thousands of "clients" with a 51 percent increase in case load and "more than a threefold increase in the dollar value of civil penalties" in one recent year. To enforce the ever increasing number of regulations, the government seeks to make ordinary citizens their enforcers. Even today, all neighbors, farm employees, friend or foe are encouraged on the IES web site to "Report potential violations, please contact IES." Wisconsin tried to use bulk milk haulers to enforce NAIS against Amish dairy farmers in 2007. The Fourth Component is operational and extremely aggressive.

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) printed an information flyer to dispel negative NAIS exaggerations. Question: Reports say you're going to charge $1,000 a day for not participating if it is mandatory. Answer: "The TAHC is a regulatory agency and has administrative penalty provisions in its law as a recourse for persons who refuse to comply."

The Fourth Component is Enforcements and the majority of U.S. livestock producers don't like the thought of imprisonment and exorbitant fines.

NAIS, when mandatory, as proposed by USDA, will require 100 percent computer movement documentation at the full expense of livestock owners. In a three year period, the total NAIS computer entries in the USA will more than eclipse the number of all people living on the entire planet. The whopping magnitude of this federal numbering burden will require a giant increase in USDA employees, facilities, and, of course IES will explode with new "clients."

The large majority of livestock producers refuse to enroll in NAIS. Oppose NAIS now, rather than when it becomes scurrilously mandatory.

There is a small amount of time remaining to politically react. For more information, see .   

Darol Dickinson
Barnesville, OH

Darol Dickinson, is manager of one of the 50 largest seed stock purebred cattle operations in the USA. He is involved in livestock marketing, retail meat sales, cattle feeding, and exporting. The Dickinson Cattle Co. Inc., ranch site is and after many years near Colorado Springs, Colo is now located in Ohio.