DownsizeDC.org
September 16, 2008
What NAIS Is Really About
By James Wilson

QUOTES OF THE DAY:

 "The real problem for me is that my farm's focus is in producing food locally, but the laws are designed for giant, impersonal businesses that deliver food across the globe." - Paul-Martin Griepentrog

"The USDA claims that 'animal identification helps document the information necessary for age, source, and processed-verified animals' but fails to explain why the federal government should intervene in a free market system that already provides age, source, and processed-verified animals as determined by competitive market forces. - R-CALF

SUBJECT:  What NAIS Is Really About

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is hitting a few snags: lawsuits, anti-NAIS bills in state legislatures, low registration rates, backlash from small farmers. This is not surprising, because NAIS would invade the privacy of small farmers and overwhelm them with fees and paperwork.

On the surface, however, NAIS sounds reasonable. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says NAIS is necessary to "protect the health of U.S. livestock and poultry and the economic well-being of those industries."

But consider:

*As we told you last week, the USDA is preventing Creekstone Farms from testing - voluntarily, at its own expense - every one of its cattle for Mad Cow Disease.

*The U.S. is allowing importation of beef from countries with graver instances of disease. 

NAIS is a system of RFID-chipping of every farm animal, so that in case of disease it can be traced to the farm of origin. But NAIS can't trace diseased animals from farms in other countries.

Common sense says that if public health was the issue, then the USDA would hold imported livestock and meat to the same standards imposed on domestic producers. And would allow, even applaud, producers to go above and beyond the USDA's own safety standards, as Creekstone tried to do.

This suggests that NAIS is designed not for public health reasons, but rather to promote the "economic well-being" of the livestock and poultry industries, especially through increased exports. But even then, it is unnecessary at best.

First of all, the U.S. is a net importer of beef.

And as grains are diverted from livestock feed to ethanol to comply with Congressional mandates, domestic meat production will fall and imports from countries like Australia are bound to increase.

In other words, meat producers don't really need the foreign markets all that much. The largest, wealthiest market for meat is right here in the United States. Darol Dickinson looked at the data and notes, "the average per pound price in US dollars paid for imported beef, live and processed, is $2.39. The average price received for each exported pound of beef, live and processed, is $1.60. Each exchange of a pound of beef produces a net 79 cent loss."

If individual U.S producers want to sell overseas, they should be free to do so at their own risk. But why should the USDA encourage this?

Moreover, the two countries which at one time demanded an animal identification system after a Mad Cow scare several years ago, South Korea and Japan, are once again accepting U.S. beef even without NAIS. And, as Dickinson writes, "The two largest purchasing countries of US beef are Mexico and Canada and they do not require NAIS. It now appears certain that NAIS is not, and perhaps has never been a factor in the US beef export equation."

Even though NAIS is unnecessary, the USDA seeks to implement it even as it prevents firms like Creekstone from doing their own Mad Cow testing to gain an advantage in the East Asian markets.

What the USDA fears is loss of control. It is offended by private efforts to improve food safety. It shudders at the thought that an American producer might actually compete in foreign markets without USDA "direction" and "help."

NAIS is not about protecting health or helping industry. NAIS is about increasing the federal government's control over the food supply. Which means, greater control over the American people.

And Congress never even passed a law establishing NAIS. But it does have the power to dismantle the program. You can tell Congress to get rid of NAIS using our free, easy-to-use Educate the Powerful System.

Thank-you for being part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org

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