There has been quite a debate raging about the National Animal Identification System among farmers and ranchers. Ostensibly in the interest of disease control, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been pushing for improved tracking of animals.
The program would require every location housing a single chicken, duck, turkey, cow, pig, goat, horse, or any other animal to be registered in a government database, where it’s assigned a number and GPS coordinates. Animal movements would be monitored on a national level with radio-frequency ear tags, retinal scans of eyes or DNA testing. The tracking system would pinpoint an animal’s movements within 48 hours after a disease was discovered. — Mount Vernon News
While an ear tag certainly has never stopped a disease, and I hope our officials are smart enough to realize at least that much, the point is to hopefully pinpoint the origins of infected meat products quickly, should a disease be noticed. The hope is to be able to quarantine animals who may have been exposed more quickly. However, producers are already required by law to track their animals. If the problem is that their records are incomplete or not as readily accessible as is necessary, isn’t it possible to enforce the laws we already have?
And foreign meat is not tracked. It enters the U.S. and is packed alongside our native grown products.
So Australia, Canada, Brazil, Mexico or any other country can ship meat here and they don’t have to meet the requirements of NAIS. So let’s ask the question of what happens to these foreign products when they get here. For the most part they get mixed in with U.S. beef by the packer so it becomes indistinguishable from an American product. Then let’s say there is some contaminate found in it down the road further in the chain say at the restaurant level. Then what happens.
They trace the meat back to the plant then NAIS kicks in and they target all these American producers as the problem for the contamination and liquidate their herds for them. The authorities never once consider that it might be the foreign products that were introduced by the packer, since they can’t be tracked, or the packer itself as the problem. They will just use NAIS to persecute American meat producers. — No Mandatory Animal ID
While the program is voluntary for now, the hope is to have all animals registered by 2008 and full implementation by 2009. No chicken, cow or horse shall be left behind. But tracking doesn’t do anything but give the central government access to that much more information that it does not need in order to do that which it was not intended to do.