In an interview to Inside Washington Today, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, who will become the Chairman of the Committee if the Democrats recapture the House, had this to say about NAIS.
-- Animal identification (ID): "From the start we have worked for an exemption for farmers via the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. I have sponsored two bills – one to set up a mandatory animal ID system based on the FAIR system that the [Ag] Department actually financed. In that, there was a FOI exemption. I introduced another bill with just the FOI exemption. And I got Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) to cosponsor it with me. But Davis was basically reigned in by the House leadership because this is a way to stop it. If they don't allow the FOI exemption to pass, then they can use this as an excuse not to do it (mandatory animal ID)."
-- Are you saying the House GOP leadership does not want mandatory animal ID? "The Republican leadership does not want it. USDA has been in our way the whole time on this deal. I could tell you stories….
"These guys don't want mandatory animal ID because the cattlemen don't want it and the cattlemen have inordinate power in this administration. And they have basically brought this thing to a standstill.
"We are not going to get the Japanese market back, largely because we don't have animal ID. We are kidding ourselves. I understand the people who don't want to do this, but my bill said that the government is going to pay for this – for the first round of tags, we will pay for the readers, we will pay for the whole system so all the farmer and rancher has to do is put the tag on the animal.
"The cost of this is like $20 million. Canada did it for $6 million, and Australia did it for $4 million. Of course they have fewer animals.
"So far the Department has spent $600 million and they have nothing to show for it."
-- You obviously are frustrated when it comes to the animal ID issue? "If they had followed my initial bill in 2004, animal ID would have been implemented by now or much further advanced.
"My judgment is they have their heads in the sand on this issue, especially when every other cattle producing country has a plan in place already. For us to sit there and not have a system is ludicrous.
"It is not a matter that they can't pass this (FOI exemption). It is my judgment that they don't want to pass it.
"And there is no leadership out of USDA on this. They have been all over the map on this topic. It is the biggest bunch of disinformation I have seen put out since the oil companies have been going after ethanol.
"USDA has people in their own Department who are frustrated. They are not providing the leadership. I have had these discussions with [USDA Secretary Mike] Johanns and he has kind of gone back and forth on it. In the end, the best thing I have been able to get out of him is that he admits that eventually this will become mandatory. But he won't say any timeframe. But the meat industry (AMI, packers, etc.,) is all for this mandatory animal ID system.
"Ironically what is likely going to make this happen is Wal-Mart and McDonald's because they are about to say 'Iif you don't have animal ID, we are not going to buy your meat.'"
Typical politics, he claims the Republicans don't want it and are blocking it. Most Republicans on the Committee are for it so I don't know what he is talking about. I love the part about how the Government is going to buy the first round of tags and all the readers. What good is that going to do me, I will need thousands of dollars of tags a year so the first round is not real helpful and money is not the reason i oppose this. the loss of personal freedom and liberty and the mandate that I have to do it are most of the reasons. The extra work to tag all my calves, which I don't do now, is the other part. The amount of work it will pile on me is tremendous.
The Last part of this though is what people need to think about.
-- If the Democrats regain control of the House, would that accelerate the timeline for mandatory animal ID? "Absolutely. That bill would be out of my committee in short effort. And I think I have support in the whole House, and I think in the Senate, to move this."
The NAIS bill would advance in short order should Democrats take the House. If that doesn't scare freedom minded Americans, I don't know what will.
An ear tag never stopped a disease, but it sure shows the true colors of freedom loving people.