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Senators Response to NAIS

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October 17, 2006

Dear Mrs.  :

Thank you for sharing your views with me regarding a nationwide identification system that would be capable of tracking animals from birth to slaughter. I appreciate you taking the time to contact me regarding this important matter.

The implementation of a nationwide identification system has been highly debated in recent years. In December 2003, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) promised to take the lead in implementing an animal ID program in response to the first U.S. report of a cow with BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or "mad cow disease"). There was a provision in the House-passed USDA appropriation bill for Fiscal Year 2007, H.R. 5384, that would require the Secretary of the USDA to address how funds have been used for a national animal ID program and to report back to the Congress on the agency's future intentions for the program . Further, a House floor amendment that would have prohibited all ID program funding was defeated by a wide margin. The Senate committee-reported version of H.R. 5384 that passed the full Senate Appropriations Committee on June 22, 2006 requests a Government Accountability Office review of USDA's efforts. You can be sure that I will closely monitor this situation and consider your views should legislation come before the full Senate.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please continue to keep me informed of your views on this or other matters of concern. If you need any additional assistance, please feel free to contact me or visit my website, at http://specter.senate.gov.

Sincerely, Arlen Specter   PA

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September 30, 2008

 

Dear Mrs. :

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). I appreciate hearing from all Pennsylvanians about the issues that matter most to them.

For hundreds of years, farmers have recognized the usefulness of keeping records on their flocks and herds so that they can be more easily tracked from birth to slaughter. While at one point that meant using a hot brand, today's farmers have at their disposal a number of less invasive options for marking individual animals such as ear tags, neck chains, and leg bands. Some of these labels can also be outfitted with radio frequency ID transponders, which further increase efficiency in animal identification processing.

Because accurate animal identification has the potential to improve animal health, strengthen food safety and promote the commercial production and marketing efforts of our Nation's agricultural producers, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a voluntary National Animal Identification System. The initial guidelines for the program, which were released in early 2004, set out practices for labeling species such as cattle, bison, poultry, swine, sheep, goats, deer, elk, horses and alpacas. Since that time, the Department has continued to work with state and local officials, representatives from the livestock industry, food safety advocates and other key stakeholders to develop this program.

In the months ahead, I will be monitoring negotiations closely to see that officials at USDA address some outstanding concerns that I have about NAIS. These would include how to handle liability and confidentiality concerns regarding animal identification records, how to determine who pays for the costs of compliance with the program and whether to make NAIS a mandatory program at the federal level or to allow individual states to establish their own standards. As this work continues, please be assured that I will keep your views in mind.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

If you have access to the Internet, I encourage you to visit my web site, http://casey.senate.gov. I invite you to use this online office as a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Sincerely,
Bob Casey
United States Senator Pennsylvania

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Dear Mr. :


      Thank you for contacting me regarding the National Animal
Identification System (NAIS).  I appreciate hearing your views on this
issue.

      The NAIS is a national program currently being implemented by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) intended to help identify and track
animals to facilitate a rapid response in the event of a disease outbreak.
Various identification systems are already used to track these animals, but
those systems are not consistent throughout the country, making the
tracking of animals across state lines especially difficult.  The goal of
the NAIS is to enhance efforts to respond to disease outbreaks, making it
possible to identify all places and animals that have potentially been
exposed to a disease within 48 hours of its discovery.

      Some small farmers are concerned about the cost of implementing the
NAIS and would prefer to continue under the current voluntary
identification systems.  The USDA worked in cooperation with farmers,
ranchers, and industry partners to develop the NAIS and the cost of
implementing this program will be shared.  In November 2006, the USDA
distributed a provisional “user guide” for the program, which states that
the USDA will not require producers to become part of this system.
According to USDA, the NAIS will consist of a series of voluntary state and
private databases that the department could only utilize in the event of a
disease outbreak.  Currently, there are over 400,000 animal premises
registered in available national databanks, and USDA implementation of this
program is ongoing.

      Should issues related to the NAIS come before the full Senate, I will
be sure to keep your views in mind.  Thank you again for writing.


Sincerely,
Carl Levin U.S. Senator Michigan

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Comment: I'm not sure what side this guy is saying.  He wants to protect small farms, but then says we have to open up our borders to diseased animals. 
 
 
 
March 12, 2009

Ms. 

Tennessee  37726

Dear Ms. :

      Thank you for contacting me regarding the National
Animal Identification System.  Knowing your views allows me to
better represent you in our nation's Capitol.
     
      As you may know, I was born, raised, and in fact, still live
on a small farm in Pall Mall, Tennessee.  Since I was a boy I
helped my dad and brother with our small beef cattle operation and
our tobacco patch.  In fact, when I am home every weekend there
are four things I always do: spend time with my family, travel
around the Fourth Congressional District to meet with constituents,
go to church, and work on the family farm.  In my opinion, small
farms have played a major role in making this country the envy of
the world, and I take pleasure in representing the small farmers of
the Fourth Congressional District. 
     
      In the United States animal products account for 51% of the
value of our agricultural products, more than $100 billion each
year.  The beef cattle industry is very important to Tennessee,
especially in the Fourth Congressional District, and the value of
our state's beef cattle production ranks ninth nationally.  Our
animal product markets depend on the ability to sell products
abroad and at home.  This is why we cannot simply cut off our
borders to animals and animal products from other countries in
order to protect our livestock from disease.
 
Meanwhile, a
widespread outbreak of a major disease, such as bird flu or Mad
Cow, could be devastating to this country's economy-especially
rural, agricultural districts such as mine.  Given this grim fact, the
USDA, state governments, and industry groups are trying to
develop a voluntary animal identification system that will allow
the USDA to trace back the activity of any diseased animal within
two days, while imposing minimal costs on producers.  The USDA
was given the authority to establish this system under the Animal
Health Protection Act of 2002, prior to my being elected to serve
as your Representative.  Information or livestock records that are
compiled can only be used in the case of an outbreak-it would not
be public information.
     
      In the 110th Congress, H.R. 1018 was introduced by
Representative Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri.  The intent of this
legislation was to prohibit the Secretary of Agriculture from
implementing the National Animal Identification System. 
However, H.R. 1018 did not come before the full House of
Representatives for a vote.  Currently, the House Committee on
Agriculture is in the process of scheduling and holding hearings on
the implementation and merits of the program.  This is the first
time in several years that hearings will be held on this topic.  You
can be sure that I will continue to monitor these hearing and the
implementation of this program with great detail.  Small farms
have a special place in my heart, and I will not stand by while the
USDA undermines the ability of small farms and farmers to exist
and thrive.
     
      Thank you again for contacting me on this important issue. 
My door is always open.
     
Sincerely,

Lincoln Davis
Member of Congress-TN

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March 26, 2009

Re: National Animal ID 

Dear Mr. & Mrs.

Thank you for contacting my office regarding your concern. 

I appreciate your taking the time to bring your views on this important matter to my attention. As a United States Senator, it is essential that I be kept fully informed on the issues of concern to my constituents. Be assured that I will keep your thoughts on this issue in mind as the Senate considers future legislation. If you have any further questions on this issue or any related issue, please visit my website, http://specter.senate.gov.

 Sincerely, Arlen Specter   PA

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Posted 03-21-09

Thank you for contacting me regarding animal agriculture issues related to animal identification. I appreciate your continued attention to this matter.

As you know, the previous Administration developed the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) to protect producer premises, reduce hardships caused by animal health events, and preserve market access. The NAIS program is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Agency. Stage one of the NAIS program is voluntary premise identification. The second component is animal identification for animals on each premise. Researchers and producers work with the Administration to find a system that creates minimal burden on producers, both physically and financially, while satisfying the goal for a standardized national system.  

I believe many logistical gaps remain. I have heard from numerous Arkansans who have expressed their concerns with privacy, financial burden, and limited benefits. Therefore, at this time, I support the continued establishment of a strictly voluntary national animal identification system for safety and trade reasons. I will continue to express my concerns and actively engage the new Administration and my colleagues in the Senate to keep producer, industry, and consumer needs a top priority. 

Again, thank you for contacting me.  I value your input.  Please do not hesitate to contact me or my office regarding this or any other matter of concern to you.

Sincerely,

Mark Pryor
United States Senate Arkansas.

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Dear Mrs., 

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about the National Animal Identification System. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue and regret the delayed response.                                                             

As you may know, the current National Animal Identification System (NAIS) functions on a strictly voluntary basis, meaning those with livestock can opt in at their discretion. The FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act which was signed into law on March 11, 2009, included $14.5 million for the National Animal Identification program. This legislation will fund the program's administration, information technology infrastructure and service, and field implementation, but will not change the voluntary nature of NAIS. 

As you may know, on February 12, 2009, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown introduced the Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act (S. 425). If enacted, this legislation would establish a nationwide tracking system through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It would authorize $40 million over three years for a national traceability system for all food under FDA jurisdiction. The system would be developed by an advisory committee comprised of consumer advocates, industry leaders, and relevant representatives from FDA and the USDA. The bill was referred to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and has not seen any further action. 

Please be assured that I understand your opposition to mandatory implementation of NAIS and share your belief that any attempt to create a mandatory national animal identification program must address the concerns of small producers. I will continue working with my fellow senators to ensure that your concerns are addressed if the USDA begins working toward the implementation of a national animal identification program. 

Thank you again for writing me to share your thoughts on this matter. Finally, you may be interested in signing up for my weekly update for Washington State residents. Every Monday, I provide a brief outline about my work in the Senate and issues of importance to Washington state. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.


Sincerely,
Maria Cantwell
United States Senator  Washington

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Dear Dr. -----:

Thank you for writing to me regarding animal identification systems
proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  It was good to
hear from you.

As you may know, USDA's national animal identification system (NAIS) is
intended to track animals from birth to slaughter.  Systems like this
could help us respond to diseases like bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE or "mad cow disease") and allow farmers to provide consumers and
foreign markets with information on the quality of the animals they
sell.  However, I have concerns with NAIS, specifically that USDA is
not being fully candid with agricultural producers and the public about
the information NAIS would collect, its costs to farmers, and how it
will be implemented.  The NAIS program is still a work in progress, and
I will continue to monitor its development. 

Throughout my Senate tenure, I have worked to strengthen America's
public health system and food safety and fight for Washington state
farmers.  Please know that as the 111th Congress moves forward, I will
keep your thoughts on animal identification programs in mind.  If you
would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please feel free
to visit my website at http://murray.senate.gov/updates.  Thank you for
writing, and please keep in touch.

Senator Patty Murray (D) Washington

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posted 04-09-09

I appreciate you taking the time to share with me your views regarding National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The views of my fellow Iowans are an essential component of my decision making process as a Member of Congress.

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding NAIS. I believe we must ensure that our food supply is safe. One case of foot and mouth disease could devastate our food supply and the American consumer's confidence in our food supply. Increased disease surveillance and animal health monitoring stabilizes the livestock production system when facing an animal health emergency. NAIS will improve, secure and promote our national animal health system, ensure a consistent domestic supply, greater access to foreign markets and allow prevention and containment of a potential animal disease outbreak.

While I understand and appreciate your position on having a voluntary animal ID system I believe we must have a mandatory system as long as we do not put the entire financial burden and ensure confidentiality of the producer. Even though we disagree on this issue I do appreciate you taking the time to share your views with me.

The 111th Congress faces many significant challenges, and economic recovery is vital if we are to meet them. As a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I will continue building upon the job creation opportunities that I have brought to the 3rd District in order to provide the stimulus Iowa needs. I periodically provide electronic updates on issues I think my constituents might be interested in. If you would like to receive the E-newsletter, please sign up at my Web Site at http://boswell.house.gov. As always, please feel free to contact me or my office if ever you think we may be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Leonard L. Boswell

Member of Congress

 
 

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Dated March 27, 2009, From Rep. Hensarling, Texas 5th District.

Thank you for contacting me regarding the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) animal identification plans.  I appreciate having the benefit of your views on this issue.

As you may know, various forms of animal ID have been in use in the U.S. for two centuries.  However, not until 2003 when bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as Mad Cow disease, was discovered in the U.S., was there a widespread call for a uniform animal ID system to track livestock. In response, the USDA announced in 2004 a framework for the national animal identification system (NAIS), which would establish a uniform tracking system handled by state animal health authorities where animals could be traced from birth to slaughter.

Proponents of NAIS argue that a national ID system is necessary for the U.S. to remain competitive in the global agricultural marketplace. After the Mad Cow outbreak in 2003, several foreign countries closed their borders to U.S. raised beef and were reluctant to reopen them even after the issue had been properly dealt with.  However, like you, I have serious concerns about making participation in the NAIS federally mandated.  The cost associated with switching to the NAIS could cause already rising food prices to skyrocket and the sheer magnitude of bringing agricultural livestock producers would be a logistical nightmare.  Additionally, most states and livestock producers already have some form of animal ID system in place.  Currently, participation in the NAIS is voluntary, and it is my hope that it remain this way.

Ensuring the safety of our food supply is vital to protection the health of our fellow citizens and our economy. You may be certain that I will continue to monitor this issue, and that I will keep your thoughts in mind should any relevant legislation come before me in the full House of Representatives in the future.

Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate having the opportunity to serve you in the United States House of Representatives.

Yours respectfully,

Jeb Hensarling-Texas

04-14-09

Thank you for contacting me regarding the National Animal Identification System. As your Senator, I appreciate knowing your views.

In recent years, many Oklahomans have expressed concerns regarding the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and how it may hinder small farms if made mandatory. As you may know, NAIS is a voluntary program designed to address animal disease outbreaks. It is a state-federal-industry partnership that is overseen by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. The goal of the program is to create a safety net encompassing U.S. poultry, livestock, producers, and consumers, by providing greater access to health, food safety, and global markets. Under the current program, farmers can voluntarily participate in the following:

oPremise Registration, though state or tribal animal health authorities

oAnimal Identification, through obtaining USDA-recognized number tags or devices from representatives of authorized manufacturers

oAnimal Tracking, through registering with the Animal Tracking Database for tracing certain animal or group movements

Oklahoma farmers and ranchers approached me with several good questions about NAIS, such as whether the program should be voluntary or mandatory, who should pay for associated costs, and how producers' privacy will be protected. Aware of these issues, my colleagues and I deliberately decided not to make NAIS mandatory in the 2007 Farm Bill. Additionally, the recently passed 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, H.R.1105, allocated $14.5 million for NAIS. However, this funding does not make the program mandatory.


I will certainly keep your concerns in mind as the Senate continues to address this issue. Please feel free to write me again regarding any future issues important to you.

Senator Jim Inhofe - Oklahoma

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Premises Registration will be an "Official" USDA unique seven Character identifier.
 
In the New User Guide it states on Page 22:
The premises identification number (PIN) is assigned permanently to a geophysical location. If an owner or entity sells his/her farm, the next operators of the premises use the original premises identification number that had been
assigned to that location. If the seller buys a new location to build a new operation that never had livestock, he/she would register that location and obtain a new premises identification number (PIN).

Premises Identification = Encumbrance

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