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National Animal Identification System
Scrapped by U.S. Government

Faced with stiff resistance from ranchers and farmers, the Obama administration has decided to scrap a national program intended to help authorities quickly identify and track livestock in the event of an animal disease outbreak.

In abandoning the program, called the National Animal Identification System, officials said they would start over in trying to devise a livestock tracing program that could win widespread support from the industry.

The officials said that it would be left to the states to devise many aspects of a new system, including requirements for identifying livestock.

New federal rules will be developed but the officials said they would apply only to animals being moved in interstate commerce, such as cattle raised in one state being transported to a slaughterhouse in another state.

It could take two years or more to create new federal rules, the officials said, and it was not clear how far the government would go to restrict the movement of livestock between states if the animals did not meet basic traceability standards.

The old system, created by the Bush administration in 2004, received $142 million in federal financing, but gained the participation of only 40 percent of the nation’s livestock producers, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

When Mr. Vilsack took over the Agriculture Department last year, he began a series of public meetings on the identification program and was bombarded by strident opposition.

Agriculture officials said that most details of a new system would be worked out in the coming months through consultation with the livestock industry and the states.

Source: The New York Times, February 5, 2010

However, the USDA’s announcement raises questions, acccording to Paul Hamby, of Missouri Campaign for Liberty:

  • What happens to producers in states where mandatory NAIS is already implemented, such as Wisconsin?
  • What happens to producers who were sued, fined or have pending charges in those states?
  • Will USDA try to redefine interstate commerce as was done in 1942 with Wickard vs Filburn ( http://conservapedia.com/Wickard_v._Filburn)?
  • USDA states new policy will be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process. Does this mean USDA bureaucrats will again make law for animal ID, subverting power away from Congress or state legislatures?

USDA Questions and Answers: New Animal Disease Traceability Framework: Download PDF.

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