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by c. Russell Wood
    There for a minute it looked like we could breath a little easier. The United States Dept of Agriculture issued yet another explanation of their National Animal Identification System. This version called A User Guide said " It`s all voluntary, no mandatory ID at the Federal level."
    Well you couldn`t beat that. That`s what we`ve been working for. But the breathing easier didn`t last long. There was yet another shoe to fall. In this case a whole closet full.
    Evidently the current administration is realizing that the common animal owners out here in the heart land are not going to accept a mandatory national animal ID system. Secretary of Agriculture Johanns recently said a mandatory ID program would result in "open revolt" among producers. So they must try a different tact. Try a back door approach.
`    So the current rhetoric has changed from voluntary as a stepping stone to a mandatory program to one they say will remain voluntary. They say this paper replaces all previous plans.
    We`ve discovered USDA issued another document the same day their Guide  was released. This one is called Cooperative Agreements for Implementation of the NAIS. It is directed to the states and outlines  the procedures to bear down on the task of getting animal owners to register their premises for the NAIS. Fourteen million dollars is going to be distributed among the states ( Missouri slated to get $570,000.00) to be used to get premises registrations.
    So while in one document  they stress voluntary participation on the federal level they are at the same time saying to the states "sickem" and dangling money out there for bait 
    Premises registration has not been going as well as USDA had planned but they helped  that along significantly by changing the standards. It seems they discovered they were using the wrong figures as to how many premises exist that need to be registered. In Missouri they claimed there are 104,000 places to get and they only had about 10,000 in their web; about 10%. Now they say there are some 78,000 total state wide.so they have maybe 13%.
    So for now the big push from USDA is to get the states to increase their efforts toward premise registration.
    Dr. Steve Goff of the Mo. Dept of Agriculture told an Iowa newspaper that Missouri " may have the most well organized opposition group" hindering premise registration. "They`re into rights and / or violation of rights". He scoffs that ,"This violates too many of their rights-private property, constitutional"  This is a state employee ridiculing citizens for opposing bureaucratic rulemaking. He also fails to recognize that the opposition he faces is "the people", not a well organized group.
    All this makes it more important now than ever for each state to prohibit implementation of mandatory animal ID in their state. Each state has to permit it and USDA aims for them to let it happen. Here in Mo. many  legislators have already  vowed they will stop this at the gate. But Governor Blunt`s Dept. of Agriculture will no doubt  be out to get this  $570,000 regardless of the fact that it all has to be spent to coerce people to join up for NAIS. Some of it can be used for salaries but most all has to go for advertising and what ever else they can use to sell their program.
    Without premise registration, NAIS goes no where. Which is where it`s gotten so far. So the approach has been changed. Tell `em  it`s voluntary at the federal level so they will relax, then push the states to get in there and get `em registered. Then the ID part and the animal movement part and the mandatory part will be added later.
    Nothing has changed except the door they will be trying to come through. We need to help our legislators close that back door approach on  the Mo. Dept of Agriculture and the USDA.
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