National Animal Identification System As you may or may not know, the USDA is planning to implement the NAIS by the fall of 2007. The Draft Strategic plan will be written by July 2006, with a short period for commentary to follow. This is a critical point for all homesteaders and small farming operations who own livestock. We need comprehensive evaluation of the requirements for registration and identification of our animals. Every animal which could possibly be used for human consumption, from farmed fish to a pet horse, would have to be registered and accounted for through a government agency. Every time an animal leaves your property, for breeding, a show, slaughter, or just to ride your horse on a trail, you will be required by federal law to report it within 24 hours. This is to be mandatory with enforcement by January 2009. I am very concerned about the ramification of such stringent guidelines for private ownership and use of livestock. As a small-scale beef rancher, I feel my livelihood is in serious jeopardy. Although there are real dangers of food source contamination, these exist primarily in feed lots, where thousands of animals are held in a confined area. The NAIS does not focus on these operations; quite the contrary. Large-scale producers would be allowed to umbrella thousands of animals under one identification code, whereas small-scale owners would be required to register with the USDA each individual animal, a chicken, a pigeon, a rabbit, with large animals requiring an implant or a tag containing a microchip. In addition, any property where an animal is raised must be registered by owner’s name, address, phone, and keyed to GPS coordinates for satellite-assisted location of houses and farms, to be mandatory by January 2008. The USDA has admitted there will be a cost to the producers. This means the small operator will bear the brunt of the expense because each animal requires a registration code number! Possible scenarios: 1) A farmer buys 20 chickens; each bird must have registration and a filing fee paid. A hen hatches a brood of chicks and each must have a code if they might ever leave his property. His wife wants to show her favorite hen at the country fair, so it must be registered and notification given within 24 hours of it leaving the property. He sells, trades, loses a bird to predation, or kills one for Sunday dinner, so it must be declared within 24 hours. 2) His son and daughter want to raise a goat and a rabbit for a 4-H project, so each must have a number and corresponding fee paid. 3) The children ride their horse to grandma’s house a mile down the road every Saturday, so the horse must be registered and must be reported each time it leaves the property. 4) they want to take your food There can be no justification strong enough to subject a family-run farm to these restrictions. If the NAIS is approved as it is being written, it could signal the end of homesteading and the American family farm. The fees and bureaucratic red tape will make it impractical to continue raising livestock for personal use. After the system for registration proves inefficient, the next logical step will be a permit filed in advance for any sale, trade, breeding, or slaughter. We will need government permission to put our animals to their intended use. I strongly urge you to notify your readers of the infringement of personal rights we are facing in the near future. We need to organize and fight the obvious persecution of all small-volume livestock owners by the large corporate producers and the makers of high-tech animal ID equipment and their lobbyists, who are endorsing their unrealistic restrictions. Help form a unified force to protect the most unquestionable human right, a tradition as old as civilization, raising animals to feed our families. Once in place, the NAIS will be nearly impossible to change. Please fight for the revision of the NAIS and save our freedom!