Sunday, June 11, 2006

NAIS: Can small farmers afford it?

At our last Central Committee meeting, committee member Ronald Elmegreen gave me some information on the NAIS release by the Liberty Ark Coalition, which has many who run small farms concerned. Before receiving this information, I knew virtually nothing about NAIS, which is short for the National Animal Identification System.

NAIS is a plan that has been proposed by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), and developed by the USDA to be implemented by state agencies with the help of grants from the USDA. Under this plan, everyone who owns or manages a location where any amount of livestock (or any horse, cow, chicken, pig, goat or sheep) is handled will be required to register in either a government database or a private database that the government can have access to. In turn, those registered will be assigned a unique code that will contain global positioning system (GPS) coordinates. All animals will be assigned a 15-digit number when moved away from their original herd, or when they are exposed to other animals from outside their herd. All animals will be tagged in some manner for tracking purposes.

The purpose of this plan is to attempt to prevent widespread animal disease. However, tracking in itself will not necessarily prevent this. In addition, if the NAIS is implemented it will create another huge level of bureaucracy, which this country does not really need. The Liberty Ark Coalition has provided an alternative plan to prevent the spread of disease, one that would carry a significantly lower price tag and one that would not require this intrusive tracking system. To prevent the spread of disease, Liberty Ark has proposed that farmers stop feeding animal parts to their livestock and test animals for disease before they are slaughtered or enter the food chain. The Liberty Ark Coalition also proposes that proper inspections of slaughterhouses can help in preventing the spread of e.coli and salmonella.

This type of system to me seems to be both intrusive and expensive. If you would like to read more on the subject, you can visit the website for the Liberty Ark Coalition at .

-Adam Reuter