NAIS-ness in a nutshell

Tags are bagged, for now: The New York Times has a nice, colorful overview of the USDA's proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS), explaining the government's rationale for modernizing the system for identifying livestock (food safety tracking), but giving more weight to smaller farmers' concerns over the burden of such record-keeping. The article does not go into criticism that the largest producers — those most likely to affect massive public health in the event of an illness outbreak — will be allowed to group-tag animals in lots of thousands, while small farmers would have to do so individually. Meanwhile, the House Committee-passed agriculture appropriations bill for FY 2010 has recommended that funding be eliminated for NAIS: "After receiving $142,000,000 in funding since fiscal year 2004, APHIS has yet to put into operation an effective national system that would provide needed animal health and livestock market benefits. The Committee is aware that USDA is conducting a public listening tour around the country for several months to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how to design and deliver a successful animal identification system. Until USDA finishes its listening sessions and provides details as to how it will implement an improved animal identification system, continued investments into the current NAIS are unwarranted." (Via the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's excellent weekly newsletter)

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