Fighting to Stop the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
April 27, 2007
NAIS AROUND THE COUNTRY
We're up to 13 states that have introduced anti-NAIS bills! Some of them have already died in the political process, but others are still alive and kicking hard! Simply getting the bills introduced is an important step, and the courageous activists and legislators who have made these bills reality deserve a lot of credit. Unfortunately, at the same time, other states continue to move forward aggressively with implementing NAIS. The federal level is also heating up, with both pro- and anti-NAIS bills being introduced and considered in Congress.
Information on the federal issues and individual states is at the end of this update. Please email us if you know of legislation or regulations in other states, so we can share that information with other people. As always, if you have any questions, you can contact us at email@example.com.
SUPPORT THE FIGHT AGAINST NAIS
On April 19, Liberty Ark celebrated its one-year anniversary. Here's a partial list of what we have done:
We've done all of this through the hard work, all volunteer, of Individual Supporters of the Coalition, our State Coordinators, the Steering Committee, and special contributors such as the volunteer who donated his time for our CD. The website is maintained at no cost to the Coalition.
But it also takes cold, hard cash to do some things. We've had to pay for printing the brochures, telephone calls, postage, and services to publicize press releases. So far, we've spent $5,838.45, which is $1,307 more than has been contributed. $2,590 of that went to the brochures. We have been, and will continue to be, careful with your money. If each supporter contributed $10, we would have over three times what we've spent so far! As you can see, much can be achieved with very little. Please contribute what you can to the Liberty Ark Coalition. It will go toward:
Whether it's $10, $100, or $1,000, you will be helping this important fight continue.
ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO JOIN
And, consider growing the Coalition. If each Supporter urged 10 others to join us, we would grow our ranks. When we lobby, it's important that can show we represent many people. Send your friends and family this link: http://www.libertyark.net/contribute.html.
A Safe Food Act has been filed in both the House and the Senate by Congressmen Delauro, Kaptur, McDermott, Miller (CA), Matsui, Berkley, Grijalva, Woolsey, and McCollum (Minn) and Senators Durbin and Schumer. The bills would create a new Food Safety Administration. Section 210 of HR1148/ S654 would require the new Administration to "establish requirements for a national system for tracing food and food producing animals from point of origin to retail sale." The section specifically covers "food production facilities," and the definition of those includes farms and ranches. We need to get this changed or stopped! We will do a more thorough analysis of the bills soon, and provide a full action alert on this issue, including detailed talking points and sample letters to help people take action.
Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson introduced HR 1018 to bar USDA from implementing or funding a mandatory NAIS. The bill is co-sponsored by Congressman John Duncan and Congresssman Ron Paul. We are working with Congressmen and Senators to get additional bills and amendments to oppose NAIS introduced.
On the other side of the fight, Congressman Colin Peterson, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, has announced that he supports combining a mandatory NAIS with Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Read Randy Given's article, "Linking COOL With NAIS Means Trouble for Consumers and Small Farmers," here.
ARKANSAS: HB 1761 would bar state and local governments from requiring premises registration, electronic identification, licensing and permits, or reports of sales, "unless a law or rule to the contrary was in effect before January 1, 2007." Two unsuccessful attempts were made to approve it in Committee and it will not be voted on this session.
ARIZONA: Arizona currently has a law that allows the agency to implement NAIS on a mandatory basis at any time. SB 1428 initially would have barred NAIS completely, but was amended to bar a mandatory program. Slightly different versions of SB 1428 have been approved by both the House and the Senate, and we do not expect any problems in the reconciliation process. So it looks like Arizona will be the first state to send an anti-NAIS bill to its Governor for signature!
INDIANA: SB 486, as originally filed and approved by the Senate Committee, was very similar to the Liberty Ark model bill and would have barred NAIS completely. But it was amended on the floor of the Senate to bar only the mandatory animal ID and tracking phases of NAIS. The amended bill was passed by the full Senate, and went to the House Committee on Technology, Research and Development. The Committee did not consider the bill, and it is effectively dead for this session.
KENTUCKY: As discussed in previous alerts, in December, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture proposed regulations that would make premises registration and animal identification mandatory, and require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for almost every movement, exhibition (including trail rides) and sale. These proposed regulations were withdrawn in January. A revised informal proposal has been circulated that retains many of the same provisions.
LOUISIANA: SB 246, the Livestock Farm Freedom Act, is very similar to the Liberty Ark model legislation, and prohibits the state from participating in NAIS, terminates the cooperative agreements, and even limits private voluntary programs to prevent abuses. It has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development Committee.
MASSACHUSETTS: The two bills discussed in last update now have bill numbers: HB 757 and SB 475. HB 757 forbids the MDAR from accepting federal funds for NAIS in 2007, requires MDAR to stop uploading data to the federal database, and seeks removal for people who were involuntarily enrolled. SB 475 includes all of those provisions and also precludes MDAR from using other existing programs as a means to implement NAIS, and prohibits any person, whether private or governmental, from discriminating against people who do not participate in NAIS or programs like it. Both bills have been assigned to the Joint Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture and the Environment, and a hearing scheduled for July 9.
MICHIGAN: Michigan's mandatory RFID tagging of cattle went into effect on March 1. If a person wants to move a cow anywhere in the state, that animal must be tagged with a Radio Frequency Identification Device that is NAIS-compliant - and which can only be bought if one has a premises registration number. Some farmers have refused to comply, while anecdotal reports indicate that others are simply selling out in large numbers. Efforts are continuing to get the Governor or Legislature to stop the program.
MISSOURI: Of the five bills that were filed in the Missouri Legislature, the leading one is SB 428, which would bar any government-run NAIS in Missouri. SB 428 was approved by the Senate Committee and almost unanimously approved by the Senate. In the House, HB 478 would initially have barred any government-run NAIS, but was amended by the House Committee to allow a voluntary government program. Because of that, activists are focusing efforts on SB 428 in the House.
OKLAHOMA: HB 1842 initially provided an exemption for premises that sold less than $10,000 in agricultural products. A committee substitute version would absolutely have barred any government NAIS program. The Agriculture Committee did not hold a hearing on the bill, and it appears to be dead for this session.
SOUTH DAKOTA: No change since the previous update. South Dakota already has legislation that authorizes that State vet to implement NAIS on a mandatory basis. A bill was introduced to limit the program to a voluntary program only, but it died in committee.
TENNESSEE: Four bills have been introduced to stop NAIS, with companion bills in both the House and Senate: HB764/SB655, HB 976/SB1274, HB977/SB1273, and HB978/SB1272. These bills take a variety of approaches, based on what other states have been introducing. Two other bills have been introduced that would limit NAIS to a voluntary program, but without any protections against coercion: HB899/SB1202 and HB1855/SB1996. In March, the House Committee heard testimony from a few pro-NAIS and anti-NAIS representatives. On April 24th, the Committee heard testimony on an amended version of HB 976 that would bar mandatory or coercive programs. The Committee is expected to vote on the bill on May 1.
TEXAS: Texas currently has a law that allows the state agency to implement NAIS on a mandatory basis at any time. HB 461 would remove the agency's authority to make NAIS mandatory and the civil and criminal penalties that are in the current statute. The Texas House amended it to include additional protections, namely: (1) a bar on discrimination or coercion; (2) to require full disclosure before anyone is enrolled; and (3) to provide the right to withdraw. HB 461 was approved by the House by a vote of 88-51, and it will now go to the Senate.
VIRGINIA: No change since the previous update. HB 1990 in Virginia initially consisted of just one sentence, barring the state agency from "participat[ing] in or provid[ing] any assistance to the establishment of the National Animal Identification System or any substantially similar program." After a January hearing, the subcommittee agreed to amend the bill to allow for a voluntary program and to allow the agency to remain involved in the USDA discussions on the program. The bill died when the full Agriculture committee voted on it.
WASHINGTON: HB 1151, as initially introduced, would have barred any government NAIS in Washington. A committee substitute version replaced all of the original language with provisions for a Livestock Identification Advisory Committee to study the issue for a year, and this version was approved by the House and was sent to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Economic Development. It does not look like it will be heard by the Committee this session.
WISCONSIN: The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture adopted regulations making premises registration mandatory back in 2005. However, until now, there have been no reports of enforcement actions. But in March, dairy farmers received letters informing them that they had to register in the NAIS database, or they would lose their license to do business. Farmers are seeking legislative action to stop the implementation of the regulations, as well as considering filing a lawsuit.
This is going to be long, complicated, and difficult fight, at both the federal level and in all 50 states! We have materials in our Citizens Action Center to help you educate others about NAIS and contact your legislators. We have made wonderful progress in the last year, and we will keep fighting!
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