NAIS Listening Session Held in Show-Me State

Large crowd opposed to mandatory animal identification.

More than 200 farmers and ranchers from seven states gathered in Jefferson City, Mo. Tuesday for a listening session on the National Animal Identification System hosted by USDA. The session was the first of an additional six sessions that were added to the original eight listening sessions that have been held over the past month. It was also the most attended session, drawing producers from six states. Almost everyone who spoke during the session was against a mandatory national animal identification system.

 

"This affects all of us and I'm glad that Missourians are standing up, it's great," said Nathaniel Barr of Wisconsin. "We didn't get to talk in Wisconsin; there's no meeting in Wisconsin. Why didn't we get one in Wisconsin? Seven hours we drove to come down here, that's how important I think it is."

 

The vast majority either wanted the system to remain voluntary or done away with completely. Several members of the Missouri General Assembly attended and spoke against a mandatory system. State Senator Wes Shoemyer, a farmer from Monroe County, spoke about the cost of a mandatory system citing a study by Kansas State University that suggested the average price of the system to a Missouri farmer would be $16 per head.

 

Senator Chuck Purgason of Caufield also spoke of the issue that actually a mandatory animal identification program is against the law in Missouri. Last year Senate Bill 931 was signed into law and said the State of Missouri may support a voluntary identification program, but that the Department of Agriculture shall not mandate or force a national animal identification system premise registration without specific statutory authorization from the Missouri General Assembly.

 

"I want to tell you this was not a piece of legislation that was very controversial once the vote started happening," Purgason said. "In the House the bill passed 136 to 9 and in the Senate passed 30 to 1, so it's overwhelming support for a voluntary program."

 

Of the more than 50 individuals who spoke Tuesday morning only one spoke in favor of a mandatory program and was met with vocal disapproval.

 

"I don't think it should be a surprise that most producers would be opposed to a mandatory program from the Federal government, that just kind of goes with the territory of who we are," said Tubby Smith, Executive Vice President of the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association. "As an industry we've always been known as free-market individuals who believe in individual rights and people's ability to achieve the most they can from the free-market system. As the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association, that's exactly where we stand. We support a voluntary, market driven approach to any form of national animal identification, and we strongly oppose a mandatory program."

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