No Mandatory Animal ID

Monday, January 15. 2007

NAIS Feasibility

A little review to start with. What is the purpose of NAIS and how is it going to be accomplished and who is the lead agency in it's implementation?

NAIS is a program by the USDA to allow them to track every animal in the US from birth to death. This is going to be done in cattle by means of an ear tag which even without the RFID technology will allow the USDA to figure out where a particular animal has been from the time of it's birth.

Why do I bring this up? I bring this up because of a little story about a South Dakota farmer and his experience with tagged cattle. It appears this farmer went to an auction yard and bought a bunch of calves to feed on his farm. He fed the calves until they were fat and then took them to the slaughter house for his pay day. He was in for a surprise though.

The packing plant would not pay him for seven head of his cattle and condemned the whole load of offal. Why? Because the seven head in question were Canadian cattle and were not supposed to be in this farmers possession.

"Unfortunately, it appears that USDA is not keeping track of the cattle being imported from Canada - under USDA's rules, these calves should never have been allowed to be sold in a South Dakota auction market. The Canadian officials apparently haven't been able to trace back the movements and origin of the calves, despite the official Canadian tags found in their ears." Fox said that USDA implemented a rule in 2005 to allow the importation of Canadian feeder cattle under 30 months of age, but only under very strict conditions.

"The cattle are supposed to enter the U.S. in sealed trucks and be transported directly to an identified feedlot. They are then to remain in the identified feedlot until they are hauled to a slaughter plant in a sealed truck," he said. "The fact that these calves showed up at a salebarn in South Dakota, were allowed to intermingle with U.S. cattle, and were not represented as Canadian cattle, indicates that USDA is not monitoring the very system it created.

The USDA wants to track all the cattle in the US, around 100 million cattle, and they can't even keep track of the small amount of cattle, I'm sure no more than 10 million, which come into the country from Canada. This is the perfect example of why NAIS is not going to work. The whole integrity of the program depends on the USDA being able to track these critters and here they prove on a smaller scale that they are incapable of doing just this.

Remember this example when the USDA official show up on your doorstep to sign you up for NAIS. Point out their proven inability to track cattle in the market system. See what they have to say about it. I bet they don't have an answer for you.

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