|Stop the NAIS
by Congressman Ron Paul
May 29, 2006
The House of Representatives recently passed funding for
a new federal mandate that threatens to put thousands of
small farmers and ranchers out of business. The National
Animal Identification System, known as NAIS, is an expensive
and unnecessary federal program that requires owners of
livestock-- cattle, dairy, poultry, and even horses-- to tag
animals with electronic tracking devices. The intrusive
monitoring system amounts to nothing more than a tax on
livestock owners, allowing the federal government access to
detailed information about their private property.
In typical Washington-speak, NAIS is “voluntary”—provided
USDA bureaucrats are satisfied with the level of
cooperation. Trust me, NAIS will be mandatory within a few
years. When was the last time a new federal program did not
expand once implemented?
As usual, Congress is spending millions of dollars
creating a complex non-solution to a very simple problem.
NAIS will cost taxpayers at least $33 million for starters.
Agribusiness giants support NAIS, because they want the
federal government to create a livestock database and
provide free industry data. But small and independent
livestock owners face a costly mandate if NAIS becomes law.
Larger livestock operations will be able to tag whole
groups of animals with one ID device. Smaller ranchers and
farmers, however, will be forced to tag each individual
animal, at a cost of anywhere from $3 to $20 per head. And
NAIS applies to anyone with a single horse, pig, chicken, or
goat in the backyard—no exceptions. NAIS applies to
children in 4-H or FFA. Once NAIS becomes mandatory, any
failure to report and tag an animal subjects the owner to
$1,000 per day fines.
NAIS also forces livestock owners to comply with new
paperwork and monitoring regulations. These farmers and
ranchers literally will be paying for an assault on their
property and privacy rights, as NAIS empowers federal agents
to enter and seize property without a warrant-- a blatant
violation of the 4th amendment.
NAIS is not about preventing mad cow or other diseases.
States already have animal identification systems in place,
and virtually all stockyards issue health certificates.
Since most contamination happens after animals have been
sold, tracing them back to the farm or ranch that sold them
won’t help find the sources of disease.
More than anything, NAIS places our family farmers and
ranchers at an economic disadvantage against agribusiness
and overseas competition. As dairy farmer and rancher Bob
Parker stated, NAIS is “too intrusive, too costly, and
will be devastating to small farmers and ranchers.”
NAIS means more government, more regulations, more fees,
more federal spending, less privacy, and diminished property
rights. It’s exactly the kind of federal program every
conservative, civil libertarian, animal lover, businessman,
farmer, and rancher should oppose.