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Groups Support Senator Tester’s Efforts to Zero Funding for Failed NAIS Program

Washington D.C. (July 8, 2009) – U.S. family farmers, ranchers and consumers expressed opposition to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s inclusion of $14 million in funding for USDA’s deeply flawed National Animal Identification System in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill. The House version had zeroed out funding. Letters sent to both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees requested that they drop funding for the NAIS program. Over $143 million in taxpayer money has already been spent for a program that has shown no benefits for food safety or animal health, but threatens the livelihoods of thousands of family farmers and ranchers. The groups applauded Senator Jon Tester’s eloquent statement during the Appropriations markup urging that funding for NAIS be stripped.

Yesterday, more than 80 organizations sent a joint letter to the entire Congress asking them to eliminate funding for NAIS. Judith McGeary, a sustainable farmer and founder of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, said, “The groups sending the letter represent conventional farmers and ranchers, organic farmers, property rights activists, and consumers. Each comes from a different perspective, but they all agree that NAIS is an unnecessary program that wastes valuable resources without solving any of our animal health or food safety issues. The opposition to NAIS cuts across the normal conservative-liberal division and has united rural and urban citizens across the country.” A copy of the letter is attached.

Rhonda Perry, a Missouri cattle farmer and director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a National Family Farm Coalition member, noted that the biggest supporters of a mandatory NAIS were the same groups who oppose any efforts for increased animal disease testing and increased food safety inspections. Perry said, “The only groups supporting NAIS are the likes of National Pork Producers Council and National Chicken Council because factory farm operations get to have one group lot ID while I have to tag every single one of my animals. NAIS is simply a way for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to shift blame away from their own bad practices onto the rest of us who must bear most of the costs.”

NAIS would not have helped in the recent massive JBS Swift recall of meat due to E.coli since the tracking ends at the slaughterhouse and processing plants, where the vast majority of food safety violations occur, not on the farm. Patty Lovera of consumer group Food and Water Watch said, “The JBS recall illustrates several critical gaps in USDA's policies that apply to slaughterhouses. Rather than waste money on programs like NAIS that do not protect consumers, USDA should use its resources to test more beef for E. coli, trace meat back to the plant where it got contaminated, and share information with consumers about where recalled products were sold.”


Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, (512) 243-9404

Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition, (202) 543-5675

Patty Lovera, Food and Water Watch, (202) 683-2465


National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), founded in 1986, unites and strengthens the voices and actions of its diverse grassroots members to demand viable livelihoods for family farmers, safe and healthy food for everyone, and economically and environmentally sound rural communities.

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