NAIS: Follow the Money

The National Animal Identification System will not protect animals against disease, improve the safety of our food supply, or stop bioterrorism. So why are so many government officials, companies, and associations urging that we adopt this intrusive, burdensome plan as a mandatory program on every person who owns even one livestock animal?

At least part of the answer can be found by looking at who will make a profit.

Radio Frequency Identification Device and Microchip Manufacturers: Companies that make the microchips and RFIDs, such as Allflex and Digital Angel, obviously stand to gain huge profits with this program. Executives from both of these companies sit on the Beef Cattle Working Group, helping to design the NAIS program.

Database Software and Development Companies: Once the animal is tagged, their movements will be tracked. Massive databases will have to be established, requiring complex software programs. As with the microchip manufacturers, the database companies have been involved in developing the NAIS. For example, Global VetLink, a company that specializes in on-line applications for interstate and intrastate animal movement, has a representative sitting on the Equine Species Working Group.

Database Management Companies and Associations: Once these databases are established, who will run them? USDA has announced that it expects the databases to be managed by private entities, clearly implicating the potential for profits. The Farm Bureau, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, and other associations have joined together to form the U.S. Animal Identification Organization (USAIO), a non-profit entity that “exists to provide the private national repository for animal movement data.” USAIO already has contracts with Allflex, Digital Angel, Via Trace, and Microsoft.

The Federal and State Governments: It is the nature of government to continuously expand, and the NAIS will certainly guarantee that. State agencies are implementing the program with the gift of federal tax dollars, enabling them to avoid cutbacks or even hire yet more bureaucrats.

Promotional Entities: Using our tax dollars, the federal and state governments are providing grants to companies and associations to promote the NAIS. For example, in Texas, the Texas Animal Health Commission provided contracts totaling over half a million dollars for 2005/06 to the following entities:

  • Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (contract amount not to exceed $190,076)
  • Texas Cooperative Extension (contract amount not to exceed $91, 850)
  • Cattle Technology (contract amount not to exceed $167,591)
  • Texas Cattle Feeders Association (contract amount not to exceed $27, 600) (Note: We have been informed that the Texas Cattle Feeders Association intends to cancel its contract)
  • ViaTrace, LLC (contract amount not to exceed $42,500)

Agri-Businesses: Aside from the unfounded disease control claims, the government and industry have admitted that they want the NAIS implemented so as to improve the export market. While there are alternative ways to improve our export market, large meat packers and agri-business hope that tracking animals will provide an international standard that will ease export restrictions. And yet tracking for the export market can be achieved through current mechanisms, which provide premiums for ranchers and farmers who track their animals.

The NAIS will simply allow the agri-businesses to reap the benefits without having to pay premiums, since the producers will be required to track their animals. And, at the same time, the agri-businesses will get rid of the last vestiges of competition from small producers, as they are driven out of business by the government intrusion and excessive expense of this program.