R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, invited to testify on animal identification systems before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry, voiced the organization’s opposition to USDA’s proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

“Mandatory animal identification is not an effective tool for preventing the introduction of diseases into the U.S. cattle herd and its misapplication as a disease prevention tool is contributing to the introduction and spread of foreign animal diseases,” Thornsberry said. “USDA has been highly successful at eradicating cattle diseases using existing resources and time-proven programs, as evidenced by its near-complete eradication of brucellosis and its significant reduction in bovine tuberculosis in the domestic cattle herd.

“As such, Congress should not allow USDA to supplant these successful programs with an unproven system that is likely to consume more resources in its administration than the agency now spends in the prevention, control and eradication of cattle diseases,” he continued. “R-CALF believes NAIS will be a colossal failure, necessitating a whole new bureaucracy just for its administration and will result in a new era of unwarranted government intrusion on the personal lives and private property of independent U.S. livestock producers and would further encourage the corporatization of the U.S. cattle industry.

“Our organization also believes the driving force behind NAIS is USDA’s desire to conform to international standards to liberalize trade, and international forces are aggressively encouraging the U.S. to abandon its longstanding disease prevention strategies in favor of less effective disease management strategies,” Thornsberry concluded. “We also believe that USDA has overreached its authority by registering livestock producers’ real property and their livestock in a federal database and by mandating NAIS participation for producers who participate in federal disease programs.”

View Thornsberry’s written and oral testimony.