Animal Disease Traceability

What We Fight For

  1. Stopping the funding for, and implementation of, National Animal Identification System (NAIS) at the federal level
  2. Clarifying and limiting the scope of USDA’s authority with regard to animal disease programs
  3. Alternative proposals that truly ensure food safety, health, justice and dignity for all

Animal Disease Traceability is Flawed

Animal Disease Traceability is a flawed system that will lead to more buyouts of family farmers, greater corporate control and more sick animals. Often marketed as a high-tech answer to stopping animal disease, it is only a method of finding sick animals in order to kill those they came into contact with. It does not eliminate the many practices that cause disease in the first place, such as factory farming itself and the practice of feeding cows to cows. Instead of working to prevent disease and encourage farming practices that promote animal health, it allows bad practices to continue by adding an expensive program which puts additional costs on family farm producers, who are strained to the breaking point already. Originally presented as a “voluntary” program, the USDA and state departments of agriculture are now actually denying animal health programs to farmers who don’t implement it.

Four Reasons Why Animal Disease Traceability Doesn’t Work

  1. No quantification of the alleged benefits: USDA has made unsupported assertions that our country needs 48-hour traceback of all animal movements for disease control. Yet USDA has failed to provide any scientific basis, including risk analysis or scientific review of existing programs, to support this claim. Existing disease control programs, combined with measures such as brand registries and normal private record-keeping, provide cost-effective traceback. A new and costly program such as NAIS is unnecessary and potentially counterproductive.
  2. High costs: The costs of complying with NAIS will be unreasonably burdensome for small farmers and many other animal owners. The costs of NAIS go far beyond the tag itself, and include: premises registration database creation and updates; tags and related equipment, such as readers, computers, and software; 24-hour reporting requirements, imposing extensive paperwork burdens; labor for every stage of the program; stress on the animals; qualitative costs, from loss of religious freedoms, privacy, and trust in government; and enforcement.
  3. No food safety benefits: NAIS will not prevent foodborne illnesses from e. coli or salmonella, because the contamination occurs at the slaughterhouse, while NAIS tracking ends at the time of slaughter. Thus, NAIS will neither prevent the contamination nor increase the government’s ability to track contaminated meat back to its source. In addition, NAIS will hurt efforts to develop safer, decentralized local food systems.
  4. Unfair burdens placed on family farms and sustainable livestock operations: NAIS would also impose significant reporting and paperwork burdens on small farms. In addition, sustainable livestock operations that manage animals on pasture would face higher rates of tag losses than confinement operations, due to animals getting their tags caught on brush or fences. NAIS essentially creates incentives for CAFOs, with the accompanying social and environmental concerns.


Farmers Unite Against NAIS (11.18.09) – Family farmers joined food safety groups, sustainable agriculture advocates, and a variety of other organizations in signing letters urging Congress and the USDA to halt implementation of NAIS.

  • Click here to read the letter to Congress, and here for the USDA letter.

Over 90 Farm, Consumer and Other Groups Request Zero Funding for Animal ID Program (9.22.09) – Over 90 organizations representing conventional farmers and ranchers, organic farmers, property rights activists, and consumers have sent a letter to Senate and House conferees for the Agriculture Appropriations bill urging them to zero out funding for the National Animal Identification System for 2010. NAIS will place undue burdens on America’s farmers and ranchers while doing nothing to address food safety and animal disease concerns.

Family Farmers, Ranchers and Consumers Demand U.S. Senate Remove Funding for NAIS (07.08.09) – Over 80 organizations send a letter to the U.S. House and Senate asking the funding for NAIS be zeroed out for 2010. While the House does not include new funding for the failed Animal ID program, the Senate included $14 million for it. Groups applaud Sen. Jon Tester’s efforts to amend the bill to halt additional funding. Congress – 2010 Appropriations for NAIS.pdf

Joint Letter to Secretary Vilsack Opposing Further Implementation of NAIS (03.16.09)

U.S. Family Farmers, Ranchers and Consumers Criticize NAIS as Threat to Farmer Livelihoods and Local Food Systems (03.12.09) – The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Dairy, Livestock and Poultry held a hearing March 11 examining implementation of NAIS. Congressional representatives failed to understand that NAIS will neither address animal disease nor food safety.

Joint Letter to the U.S. Senate to request funding for NAIS be dropped from Omnibus Appropriations Bill (03.04.09)

Joint Letter to Senate Appropriations Requesting No Linkage Between NAIS and School Lunch Program (7.15.08)

Family Farmers, Ranchers And Local Food Advocates Criticize Efforts to Tie School Lunch Program to Animal ID (6.25.08) – NAIS provisions in the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee’s markup bill would harm the growing local food movement and consumer demand for sustainable meat while giving unfair advantages to industrial factory farms who are responsible for the overwhelming majority of hazardous food safety practices.

Joint Letter to House Appropriations Requesting No Linkage Between NAIS and School Lunch Program (6.25.08)