Iowa Public Television


Cattlemen Speak Out at NAIS Listening Session

posted on July 3, 2009

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. The government's latest unemployment figures revealed more job losses than expected last month.

According to the Labor Department, recession-weary employers pared 467,000 positions from their payrolls in June.

The cuts pushed the nation's total unemployment rate to 9.5% -- -- it's highest level in 26 years.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported orders to U.S. factories jumped 1.2 percent in May -- -- their largest monthly increase in nearly a year.

But the New York-based Conference Board announced its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 49.3 in June. Analysts monitor shopper sentiment closely because their spending accounts for more than two thirds of all domestic economic activity,

Rather than splurging at the mall though, a report released last week indicated Americans used most of their federal stimulus payments to boost personal savings rates to their highest level in more than 15 years.

Wall Street took the week's developments in stride and the Dow wrapped the 4-day session with a loss of more than 150 points.

The markets were closed Friday in honor of Independence Day, but many of America's farmers and ranchers say their freedom is threatened by an ever-increasing number of regulations. On Tuesday, they gave the government an earful.

Cattlemen Speak Out at NAIS Listening Session

Terry Schrick, Nebraska Catltleman: "…And I thought what in the world are people thinking about? Can you read through this thing and believe you still live in the United States?"

The last of 14 scheduled USDA listening sessions concerning the National Animal Identification System, or NAIS, took place Tuesday in La Vista, Nebraska. p Lewis Day, Nebraska Cattleman: "It's our right and our responsibility to make sure this is not rammed down our throats."

The sessions provided producers, packers and representatives of various commodity groups an opportunity to voice concerns and offer alternative solutions to the current system.

Kent Pruismann, Iowa Cattlemen's Association: "A recently released cost benefit study has indicated that the cost to the cattle industry will be 200 million dollars or more. Who will bear those costs?"

Dan Vinton, Nebraska Cattleman: "We are price takers, not price makers. Our government is out of money. Asking for more federal dollars is foolish in our economic state."

Christian Harvey, Nebraska Cattleman: "NAIS is not okay if somebody pays for it. NAIS is not okay if somebody guarantees privacy. It's not okay! There are hidden agendas in this… there is no doubt.

Besides concerns over where funds to implement NAIS would come from, attendees also expressed fears that information gathered by USDA could manipulate livestock markets.

David Wright, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska: "With that kind of information, that would be like a crystal ball. You could determine when inventories are high and when inventories are low. When inventories are high, you could bid cheap for the products and when they were low, you could step out of the markets and not be a participant. That information would be very valuable outside of production agriculture."

Jo Stec, Nebraska Rancher: " My cows now carry an EID tag, an 840 tag that says unlawful to remove. And I said three times, ‘no we don't need those tags.' I can identify any animal on this place and I can give you any information you need about that animal."

Jo Stec's herd is one of 43 in Nebraska quarantined because of a recent Tuberculosis outbreak. She and many of those opposing NAIS believe there are already inventory systems in place and a national program would not prevent, nor expedite identification of infected livestock.

Jo Stec, Nebraska Rancher: "I think most producers have good records, I think they know their cattle, I think they work with local vets and the local vets have good records, the local sale barns have good records. I think any animal is traceable.

Those voicing support for the current national animal ID system also expressed concerns over privacy issues and the costs of implementation. However, NAIS proponents believe it will eventually benefit producers.

Bill Luckey, Nebraska Pork Producer: "In 2008 the United States exported over 4.4 billion pounds of pork valued at over 5 billion dollars. Last year was the 17th consecutive year of record pork exports. It is critical to the continued viability of the U.S. pork industry and to the livestock, dairy and poultry industries that the United States establishes a mandatory animal identification system that allows animal health officials to identify, control and eradicate diseases that could infect the countries livestock herds and effect domestic and international markets."


Tags: agriculture animals beef cattle livestock meat National Animal Identification System (NAIS) news USDA