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Help Stop Forced Electronic Animal ID!

Good news – a Congressional Resolution of Disapproval has been filed in the House to stop the USDA’s senseless, damaging rule mandating electronic ID for cattle and bison!

Yes, there’s good news. But there’s a long road from being filed to being passed … and the rule will go into effect in November if it’s not stopped.  We need you to call your U.S. Representative to urge them to support the CRA resolution to overturn the USDA’s new rule!

Mandatory electronic Animal ID is a solution in search of a problem, and one that will harm thousands of small farmers and ranchers across the country.

The solution is simple: Keep the 2013 Animal Disease Traceability Rule unchanged, allowing farmers and ranchers to identify their animal with traditional, low-tech forms of ID or electronic ID, depending on which works best for their operations.

We urge you to take immediate action and voice your opposition to electronic animal ID mandates! 

  1. Call your U.S. Representative and urge them to co-sponsor the resolution to overturn the USDA’s new rule!

Sample script: “Hi, my name is ___ and I live in [town].  I am calling to ask my Representative to co-sponsor House Joint Resolution 167, to overturn the USDA’s new rule mandating electronic animal ID.

I am concerned about this issue because {I am a rancher who relies on traditional metal tags; I am a small farmer in an isolated area without good access to tagging equipment; I am a consumer who wants to support local farmers, not international meatpackers …” whatever it is, in a sentence or two, let them know why you are calling about this]

[You can add talking points from below, if you like – but the most important part is your story as a constituent!]

2. SPREAD THE WORD:  Share this information with your friends, family, and fellow farmers. Encourage them to also call their legislators and voice their opposition to the mandate!

Your action is vital to protect small farmers and ranchers and all those who depend on them for their food.

Thank you for taking action now!

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SOME TALKING POINTS:

1. The cost of RFID tags disproportionately burdens small and medium sized independent farmers and ranchers.

2. The USDA rule allows large, corporate-owned herds to be grouped and tagged as one group, creating a huge loophole that keeps costs low for the companies.

3. Although USDA claims the rule is about animal health, it does nothing to prevent or treat disease.  USDA hasn’t provided any data to show how it will significantly increase traceback – the agency simply assumes electronic systems will be faster, even though the experience in other countries, such as Australia, does not support this.

4. USDA’s press release focused on the real driver for electronic ID, namely greasing the wheels of the export market.  This benefits the big companies, while putting the cost on the farmers.

5. RFID tags on the live cattle do nothing to increase food safety.

6. Mandating electronic ID hurts small farms and ranches and increases consolidation, based on the actual experience in our country.  In 2007, Michigan implemented mandatory electronic ID for cattle intrastate. Between 2007 and 2022 (the most recent agricultural census), Michigan lost 4,445 farms that had fewer than 500 head of cattle – losing small cattle farms at a rate 28% faster than the national average.  At the same time, the number of large cattle operations in Michigan increased by 37%, and the number of cattle consolidated on those large operations by 64% – a rate that is 5 times the national average!

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MORE INFORMATION:

“I don’t take my cattle across state lines, why should I care?”  

“I don’t even have cattle, I have goats, sheep, horses, pigs, or poultry – why should I care?”

Because this is just the first step back towards an all-encompassing electronic ID mandate.  In the early 2000s, USDA proposed a comprehensive plan for birth-to-death electronic tracking of all livestock and poultry animals, known as the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).  After years of protests from conventional ranchers, organic farmers, homesteaders, property rights advocates, privacy watchdogs, and local food consumers, the agency withdrew the NAIS plan.  In its place, USDA adopted a rule that addressed interstate cattle movements and explicitly provided for a range of types of identification – including low-tech, traditional methods – to be used.

This new rule, which violates that vital recognition of the importance of traditional forms of ID, is not only a problem for the cattle owners it will immediately directly impact – it’s the first step back to a NAIS-type plan.  USDA signaled that in its press release announcing this new rule, trumpeting its benefits for the export market (which will not be satisfied with only tracking interstate movements) and talking about moving to a “modern animal disease traceability system that tracks animals from birth to slaughter.”  

Mandatory electronic Animal ID is expensive, intrusive, and unreliable. The plan benefits two groups: the large meatpacking corporations, and the technology companies that produce the electronic tags, readers, and software.

USDA and the meatpackers argue that traceability is about addressing animal disease and food safety. But it’s really about furthering corporate control of the meat industry by creating yet more regulations that promote international trade for the big meatpackers, are cheap for large-scale operations, and burden family farmers.

The vast majority of food-borne illnesses in meat are the result of practices at the slaughterhouse and afterwards in the processing and handling. We have seen millions of pounds of meat recalled due to unsanitary conditions and a lack of proper oversight at huge slaughterhouses. But the animal ID program ends at the slaughterhouse door – RFID tags on cattle won’t do anything to increase food safety.

Nor will RFID tags make our animals healthier. USDA continues to allow imports of livestock from countries with known disease problems. In fact, this electronic ID plan is primarily designed to maximize corporate profits by promoting exports and imports of animals and meat – further increasing the risk of introducing and spreading diseases.

If USDA wanted to address food safety and animal disease, it would increase oversight and testing at the large meat processing plants, and stop boxed meat and live cattle imports from countries with known disease problems. These two steps would do far more to promote a safe, secure food supply than sticking RFID tags in cows’ ears.

We already have Animal ID requirements that provide for low-tech forms of ID.  Traditional metal ear tags cost about 10 cents each, and the USDA provides them to farmers for free. They work and they are cost-effective. In contrast, the agency estimates the cost to farmers for RFID tags will be $2-$2.60 per head. That doesn’t seem like much, but that translates to sales for the tag manufacturers of tens of millions of dollars each year. The people pushing electronic ID have not provided a scientific basis for replacing the existing ID programs with one that is significantly more expensive and intrusive.

Call your U.S. Representative and urge them to overturn USDA’s new rule!

For more information on mandatory electronic Animal ID, go to  Mandatory Animal ID Programs – Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

The post Help Stop Forced Electronic Animal ID! appeared first on The Weston A. Price Foundation.

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