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NAIS Prohibition Bill Analysis (S-3862) By
Henry Lamb September 14, 2006 Technical Review:
On September 7, Senator James Talent (R-MO) introduced HYPERLINK "http://libertyark.net/bills/s3862.htm"S-3862, a bill to amend the Animal Health Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 8308), which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has used as the authority to develop its proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS). A companion bill (HR-6042) was introduced in the House by Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO). Section I of the bill says that the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture... “shall not implement or carry out, and no Federal funds shall be used to implement or carry out, a National Animal Identification System, or similar requirement, that mandates the participation of livestock owners.”
Section II of the bill defines the term “Animal Identification System” to mean: “voluntary system for identifying or tracing animals that is established by the Secretary.”
This section also provides protection from disclosure, under the Freedom of Information Act, “...of information that may be collected by the USDA through a voluntary program.” By providing information to USDA in a voluntary program, the provider does not relinquish any other right, privilege, or protection afforded under federal law, including trade secret protection.
The Secretary may release information in the event that livestock may be “threatened by a disease or pest;” providing that the Secretary is so authorized by this bill, and to other government agencies, if necessary, to assist in carrying out the purposes of this bill.
The Secretary is required to release
This bill is not a National Animal Identification System bill, and should not be considered as such. Three other bills have been introduced, that are NAIS bills: HYPERLINK "http://libertyark.net/federal.shtml"HR-3170, HR-1254, and HR-1256. These are bills that describe a proposed National Animal Identification System. Additionally, the USDA has proposed a NAIS that can be implemented by rule, using the authority and funding granted in the 2002 appropriation bill.
Senator Talent’s bill goes to the seat of this authority and amends the original authority to prohibit any animal identification program developed by USDA from being mandatory. The bill further prohibits the use of federal funds to any state program that is mandatory.
The purpose of this bill is not to describe, or define a NAIS. The other bills serve this purpose, and these bills call for a mandatory system.
The Talent bill will now force the Agriculture Committee to reconcile the “no mandatory program” concept with the “mandatory” concept. This head-on battle would not have occurred without the Talent bill. The Talent bill does nothing more, or less, than is stated here.
Opponents of the NAIS may prefer that there be no national animal identification program at all. But this preference ignores reality. More than four years, and at least $183 million have already been invested in developing a program. There are at least three bills defining a NAIS, in addition to the program developed by the USDA. If there is no legislation, the USDA program will be instituted by rule. The basis for this eventuality was established in the agriculture appropriations bill.
Therefore, opponents of the NAIS would be well served to support the Talent bill, since it is the only hope of stopping a mandatory program. Criticism of Talent’s bill is actually criticism of the NAIS program as proposed by USDA, and is completely misplaced when directed toward the Talent bill. The Talent bill seeks only to prohibit the USDA from making mandatory any animal identification program that it may develop, and to prohibit the use of federal funds for any state program that is mandatory. It also seeks to protect from disclosure any information that may be collected by a voluntary USDA program.
Criticism about any other aspect of the NAIS should be directed elsewhere - not toward the Talent bill.
Information is circulating on the Internet that claims the bill would “...allow exempting animals from a national licensing system....” The Talent bill does not address exemptions at all.
Other criticism claims that the Talent bill “....would allow the USDA to regulate meat packers, processors, veterinary or other services farmers must use....” The Talent bill does not address these regulations at all. Still other criticism faults the bill’s failure to define “voluntary.” The bill does, however, prohibit “mandatory” participation, and defines any USDA animal identification program to be “voluntary.” Therefore, if enacted, the USDA could never make a program mandatory without changing the law. The other NAIS bills should address the valid concern that the USDA might require “voluntary” participation in order to participate in other government programs. The Talent bill is not the place to address this issue.
Opponents of the NAIS should rally behind the Talent bill and refocus their criticism toward HR3170, HR1254, HR1256, and the USDA’s proposed program.
Opponents will need maximum unity and strength to support the few Congressmen who are willing to try to prevent a mandatory NAIS from being forced upon animal owners.
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\\l "HenryLamb"Henry Lamb
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