October 27, 2007

Open letter to the Missouri Farm Bureau and press release from R-CALF regarding NAIS

An open letter to Missouri Farm Bureau leaders and Texas County Farm Bureau,
The following News Release details many of the reasons that so many are opposed to NAIS. Your position on NAIS has been that you support voluntary NAIS currently. This release details why the current so called ''voluntary'' program is of such concern to Americans that love liberty and believe in the Constitution and rule of Law based on the Constitution.

USDA published, in the July 17, 2007, Federal Register, its final rule on Animal Identification Numbers (AINs), which repeatedly refers to rolling in all disease-control programs to reach “full implementation” of NAIS. Livestock producers are being rolled into NAIS with, or without, their knowledge or consent. This “full implementation” also is referenced in several NAIS documents and means “mandatory with enforcement.”

How can you not tell your membership the truth about how this ''voluntary'' program is being rolled into ''mandatory'' existing animal health programs is of a huge concern to me. Missouri Farm Bureau's letter to USDA in 2005 and signed by President Kruse states that Missouri Farm Bureau believes that NAIS should ultimately be MANDATORY. I have yet to be shown anything in Farm Bureau Policy that supported a letter with this wording at that time. One big concern is that since FB leadership believes NAIS should ultimately be mandatory, it does nothing to oppose this program as it heads toward being fully mandatory!
As you know, my local Farm Bureau board voted me off the board because I was very vocal in my opposition to Missouri Farm Bureau's leaderships letter to USDA supporting a Mandatory NAIS and believed that the members should be informed about what is really happening with NAIS and that a change in leadership for MoFB was in order. You have been very effective at silencing the opposition to what you have been doing in my opinion. I have virtually no budget and little time to fight this fight. You have millions and full time staff and that has been very hard to get around. I do however, believe the truth will ultimately prevail, however, it will probably be too late for small producers by then.
Please read the following R-calf news release. I am sending this to you and others so all will know that the Leadership in MoFB has been notified of these concerns. Again, I am concerned that the leadership in Missouri Farm Bureau will sit on this very important information and notify their members about what is happening. As you know, I have sent you information about NAIS and you have never passed it on to your members as I can document several times.
Maybe you could include a copy of this release in your magazine or in your other letters and publications to your members. I am sure they would be most interested in these concerns. Again, I invite you to our meetings across the State to defend your position. I am sure you would just like this to go away but NAIS will devastate small producers when they learn of the tagging and traceback reporting requirements. Small producers will be overwhelmed by the record keeping, liability, cost, and intrusion by the government into their lives. Sadly, I must burn my bridges with Farm Bureau on NAIS. This is too important of an issue to not take a stand on. My freedoms as an American are not for sale. Our existing programs for specific diseases have worked well in past. NAIS is for 48 hour traceback for disease. You must ask yourself, what must I do as a producer within 24 hours to have a 48 hour NAIS style traceback? The maze of regulations found in the NAIS documents is what you will be forced to do.
I guess your response again will just be how I am using old information and mis-informing the public but never respond directly to any of these issues. You will probably just go on talking about how Farm Bureau is just a grassroots organization etc. etc. I think when the grassroots finds out what Farm Bureau leaders have been doing they will quit Farm Bureau or re-elect better leadership. I can only hope so....
You can fool some of the people most of the time, and most of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time...don't be fooled....
Fed up with Farm Bureau Leadership and USDA
Bob Parker
Member, Texas County Farm Bureau [former Board Member for many years]
Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 9:54 AM
Subject: FW: Senate Asked to Place Moratorium on Further Premise Registration Efforts, Defund NAIS

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

Fighting for the U.S. Cattle Producer”

For Immediate Release Contact: Shae Dodson, Communications Coordinator

October 23, 2007 Phone: 406-672-8969; e-mail: sdodson@r-calfusa.com

Senate Asked to Place Moratorium

on Further Premise Registration Efforts, Defund NAIS

Billings, Mont. – In a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee, R-CALF USA has requested a moratorium on any further premise registration efforts, and also has requested that the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), or any other similar systems under any other name, be defunded at once.

“There are just so many questions and issues that must be addressed before reasonable consideration could be given as to whether funding of NAIS should continue at all,” said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group’s animal health committee.

“Does USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) truly have the authority to mandate NAIS under the Animal Health Protection Act,” Thornsberry asked. “We want a thorough study on the legitimate authority and legal ramifications of the program, as well as a complete financial audit of NAIS thus far.”

R-CALF USA believes that USDA has used improper and questionable tactics to garner NAIS premise registration numbers. It is our opinion that the methodology used is less than ethical, and that the potential ramifications of a program of this scope and complexity must be assessed and completely understood by all Members of Congress to adequately represent their constituents.

USDA published, in the July 17, 2007, Federal Register, its final rule on Animal Identification Numbers (AINs), which repeatedly refers to rolling in all disease-control programs to reach “full implementation” of NAIS. Livestock producers are being rolled into NAIS with, or without, their knowledge or consent. This “full implementation” also is referenced in several NAIS documents and means “mandatory with enforcement.”

“To increase participation in premise registration, USDA has used Cooperative Agreements to contract with various state departments of agriculture, and other parties, such as FFA, 4-H, state fairs, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Angus Association,” said Thornsberry. “Many of these tactics, we believe, have been underhanded, deceptive and unethical.”

For example:

1) Roll-ins to NAIS through existing state disease-control programs, such as scrapies, calfhood vaccinations and brand registrations, which are mandatory in many Western states. Idaho achieved a 96 percent participation level by rolling into NAIS more than 13,000 registered brands. New York achieved a 58 percent level by rolling into NAIS those who vaccinate their calves. Interestingly, in Wisconsin, which requires mandatory premise registration, USDA reported a 114 percent participation level. How so?

2) Some fairs in some states, especially Colorado, require premise registration numbers, especially from FFA and 4-H kids, before these students are allowed to participate in the fairs. These minors do not own property, but, nonetheless, are required to have a Premise Identification Number (PIN) to participate.

3) Most states give away some sort of premium or financial incentive to encourage people to register their premises. Items vary from coffee cups, to vise grips, and even cash. Producers in Tennessee were required to register their premises if they wanted to participate in the hay-share relief program there.

4) In many states, cattle producers, in particular, were told they would have to participate in NAIS to continue to engage in commerce. In Missouri during the summer of 2005, NAIS Committee Member Dr. Taylor Woods visited livestock auctions across the state and told producers they would be required to electronically identify their cattle by January 2006, or they would be unable to sell cattle in their state. Approximately 8,000 premises were registered as a result.

5) USDA also has awarded grants to many non-profit breed and farm organizations, as mentioned earlier, as well as the U.S. Animal Identification Organization (USAIO) for the tracking database. Many pork producers have been required to register their property with PINs or lose their ability to market their hogs, all while USDA continues to state that NAIS “is voluntary with a capital V”.

There are approximately 100 million head of cattle in the U.S., and the NAIS-compliant RFID (radio frequency identification) tags for these animals would cost approximately $300 million. The approved device for horses is an implantable microchip with an average cost of $25 each. In 2006, the USAIO predicted a charge of 30-cents per entry into its database. There is an awful lot of money to be made on the backs of livestock producers that obviously will have an impact on Rural America.

“Historically, the United States has had the most efficient and effective disease control programs in the world,” Thornsberry asserted. “Our programs have worked because they were disease-specific and species-specific, and also had good science behind them without being overly burdensome on farmers and ranchers.

“The U.S. has existing emergency animal disease protocols in place in each and every state, and NAIS will not change the protocols for disease control and eradication,” he emphasized. “NAIS implementation is both redundant and a waste of taxpayer money. Was it truly the intent of the Congress and Senate to require citizens engaging in the commonplace activity of owning animals to be under such onerous regulations and penalties?”

Note: To view R-CALF USA’s letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee, please visit the “Animal Identification” link at www.r-calfusa.com.

# # #

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA has more than 60 affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.

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