Interestingly enough, it's Pearl Harbor Day---and so it is for Cattle
Last week I heard from someone who works at several sale barns in the area that one was currently tagging all breeding cows with 840 NAIS tags if they did not have the metal brucellosis tag in their ears. As of January 1st, 2010, they would tag all breeding stock going through the chute with 840 tags regardless of metal bruce tags that were already in the cow's ear. The word was that this was 'some sale barns' and 'some veterinarians'.
I've spent several days trying to get information and documentation on this, and this morning, our Missouri State veterinarian, Dr. Taylor Woods, was kind enough to call me and explain what is happening in fair detail.
According to Dr. Woods, in March or April of 2009, he received a notice from the USDA stating that in two weeks all federal funding for Brucellosis was to be cut off. This was rather a shock to him and he called and went all the way up to Dr. John Clifford. Clifford told him he should have received a notice regarding this in December of 2008. Dr. Woods told him that this was the first he had heard of it, and went on to ascertain that the reason for failure of notification was because Missouri has been 5 years brucellosis free. Dr. Clifford stated that he would allow funding to continue for Missouri until December 31st, 2009. At that time, all blood testing for brucellosis would cease and all breeding cattle would be identified at the market by the market veterinarian with the 840 tag. The 840 tags are currently provided by the USDA free to the state of Missouri, and will supplant testing and the metal Brucellosis tags at market.
Also, Doctor Woods said that as far as he is aware, this is what is going to happen in every single state. Also, that only Texas and Missouri have been collecting blood and actually testing for Brucellosis. He said that these 840 tags are NOT NAIS tags. Also, notably, that he is rather irritated to see a successful program of Brucellosis eradication going away and relying instead upon a tag that will not detect the disease. It is confirmed via a myriad of sources that there will be no more pulling of blood to check for brucellosis in several states. The USDA Veterinary Services (VS) is doing away with the brucellosis program to bring in the OIE (World Animal Health Organization) standards for trade on Animal Identification, which at the very least, according to the Guidelines of the OIE, will identify an animal back to the farm of origin or 'premise'. These are the first two prongs of NAIS: premises registration, and animal identification. You cannot have 840 identification without going back to the 'premises'. Doctor Woods told me that they would be using the sale barns (markets) as the premises. This is NOT supported by any documentation that is available anywhere.
Now, I am completely unable to find any other designation for the 840 tags other than one which links the identified animal back to the NAIS premises of the owner selling the cattle. For cattle, all 840 tags are radio frequency identification, the USDA is allowing 840 non RFID identification for hogs, otherwise all 840 is RFID and all 840 is linked back to the farm of origin or premises.
Again, this is to go into effect in all states beginning on January the 1st, 2010. Doctor Woods was kind enough to assure me that he would be happy to give me whatever correspondence and documentation he could find regarding this. The issue as I see it is that there is not much time at all before January 1st, and I certainly cannot wait the six weeks it took for my last request from the Missouri Department of Agriculture to be fulfilled. The USDA never gives out any information unless you possess the capacity to actually sue them for the information…at least not to the likes of me.
There are several States with statute constraining the implementation of NAIS and premises registration. Missouri is one of those States, and there appears to be a definite conflict here unless the documents can indeed support something other than premises registration under NAIS standards (you can call it what you like, NFAIP, USAIP, NAIS, NLIS, or whatever), this would indeed be construed as mandating or otherwise forcing participation in NAIS or any similar program by the State Veterinarians office and a case of the USDA forcing a State Department to violate statute to continue to participate in interstate commerce. The USDA is in violation of the APA at the very least.
At any rate, I wanted to get this information out despite the lack of paperwork to support this as there are many sources confirming the generalities of this and no one saying that 840 tags will not be used on cattle going through the chutes in the state of Missouri after January 1st, 2010.
When I do get the actual documentation, I will be sending it on to all interested parties. This is trickle down and up NAIS in full effect. 2010 is the year for OIE compliance on animal identification for the USDA. And first they came for the cows……