Fighting to Stop the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
April 27, 2008
Farm Bill Deadline Extended
The deadline for the Farm Bill has been extended to Friday, May 2. The committee leadership has announced that they have resolved the tax and offset issues in the Farm Bill that have stalled the bill for so long. The agreement will be shared with the full conference committee on Monday, April 28.
This means that the conference committee will probably move fast to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, which would include the Section 10305 NAIS provision in the Senate version.
If you haven’t called already, please call now! Go here for contact information for the conference committee members, talking points, and more information.
THE VIEW FROM DC
Looking beyond the Farm Bill, there will be several battles over NAIS in Congress in the coming months. As the Agriculture Appropriations bills are written, we expect a debate over whether, and under what conditions, to keep funding NAIS. And several legislators are likely to push to include NAIS in a food safety bill.
Judith McGeary, a member of the Liberty Ark Steering Committee, was in DC from March 31 to April 4, and met with 30 senior staffers for Representatives and Senators from both sides of the Congressional aisle. They sit on committees that will play an important role in what happens with NAIS, from Agriculture and Ag Appropriations, to Government Oversight. Judith also met with staff for two of the Presidential candidates, Senators Obama and McCain. During her meetings Judith talked with the staff about the full range of issues surrounding NAIS, from the lack of scientific basis to the costs and intrusion on privacy to the coercive measures being used by USDA and the states.
The single issue that came up the most often was the role of NAIS in food safety. To many people, it sounds good to be able to say we can track every animal. But most food-borne illnesses come from bacterial or viral contamination of food at slaughterhouses, food processing, or food handling facilities – which means that tracking live animals is of little or no use. And the best protection against BSE in the food supply is to increase testing for the disease, a measure that USDA has opposed! Moreover, NAIS would harm small local farmers who are providing truly “traceable” food for increasing numbers of consumers. Judith explained all of these facts to Congressional staffers, trying to counter the pro-NAIS propaganda.
What You Can Do. Contact your own Representative and Senators! With the Farm Bill still in play, food safety still in the news, and the current publicity about small town and rural voters’ concerns, this is a unique opportunity to raise your voice to listening ears. If you don’t know who represents you, you can find out here. Start developing a relationship with his or her agricultural staffer. Ask them the Congressperson's position on NAIS, and try to address the reasons they may support NAIS or why they're on the fence. Give them personal stories about how NAIS will impact you and your community, along with solid facts about the flaws with NAIS. And be sure to explain that you want real food safety, not the false perception of safety that NAIS would create.
For more information, contact .
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