May 25, 2009

USDA Dog and Pony Shows, er, Listening Sessions

Follows is a recap of the listening sessions from R-Calf. What is it about NO that USDA doesn't understand?

Recap of Completed Listening Sessions:

USDA has now held five of its seven scheduled NAIS listening sessions. USDA is running into fierce opposition from livestock producers across the country and, importantly, they are learning first hand that R-CALF USA is a national organization as R-CALF USA members have testified at each session in strong opposition to NAIS. We have not yet heard a report about today’s Louisville, Kentucky session but here’s a brief recap of the five that have been held:

For the Harrisburg, PA, listening session, R-CALF USA member Darol Dickinson wrote a very informative report that you can read at He states that 187 people asked to speak but only 36 were allowed to make presentations. Of those who did speak, 27 were opposed and only 4 favored NAIS.

At the Pasco, WA, listening session, about 50 people participated with 31 against NAIS and only 4 or 5 were in favor. R-CALF USA members made strong presentations and were also quoted in media reports. The Associated Press headline read, “Peeved ranchers lambast federal effort to ID herd animals.” R-CALF USA members Bert and Kathy Smith provided a report of the meeting and stated, “Bert and I were surprised at the passion o thers voiced against the USDA itself. Where once the USDA may have been viewed a friend of the industry, cow/calf producers don’t feel that way now. There is a high level of mistrust of the USDA, its officials, and its motives. Most view NAIS as a means to control farmers and ranchers and their land, not as a means of controlling disease. If the USDA were really concerned about disease control, our borders would be closed to questionable imports and inspection standards would be more stringent.”

At the Austin, TX, listening session, R-CALF USA Director Stayton Weldon and several other R-CALF USA members were among the 150 participants and they expressed strong opposition to NAIS. Stayton Weldon reported that 55 presenters were strongly against NAIS and only 7 were in favor. He said the crowd was very angry and USDA was unable to lead a discussion on possible alternatives.

At the Birmingham, AL, listening session, R-CALF USA Director George Chambers and several other R-CALF USA members were among the 189 people in attendance and among the 27 speakers who were passionately against NAIS. Only 2 were in favor. George Chambers reported that comments were made about how NAIS would already be implemented if it wasn’t for “those pesky R-CALF USA folks.” R-CALF USA’s strong presence – as represented by individual members and not staff, at each of these sessions is sending a strong signal to USDA that R-CALF USA is a strong national organization and it does represent the interests of the vast majority of livestock producers. This will certainly help us, not only in defeating NAIS, but also in advancing our other member-developed policies. George Chambers said he signed up 6 new R-CALF USA members during the meeting.

Upcoming Sessions:

There are two more meetings officially planned (we’ll report on today’s KY meeting next week):

9:00 a.m. Wednesday, May 27, 2009 Storrs, CT
University of Connecticut
Storrs Campus - Bishop Center
One Bishop Circle
Storrs, CT 06269

9:00 a.m. Monday, June 1, 2009

Loveland, CO
The Ranch
Larimer County Fairgrounds and
Events Complex
5280 Arena Circle, Suite 100
Loveland, CO 80538

We strongly recommend that anyone who can should go to these two remaining sessions. We need to keep up the huge momentum that continues to build against NAIS. The larger each of the crowds, the greater our opportunity to stop NAIS.

Also, USDA officials at this week’s sessions stated that more listening sessions will be held. However, there has not been any official announcement by USDA, so we can’t rely on it. [update: There are more listening sessions scheduled now. See NoNAIS post here. ~ Hen]

How to Submit Comments:

For those unable to attend any of the sessions, you can submit written comments online here. The Docket No. for these listening sessions is APHIS-2009-0027-0001
(you should include this Docket No. on your written comments). A deadline has not been established. We recommend you send your comments by midnight, June 1, 2009 unless we receive other instructions.

1 comment:

Comments are moderated, but I usually get to them in a few hours.