Emerson NAIS Bill back in Play

The National Animal Identification System is the thing I have reluctantly become an expert in over the course of the past two years. It is what I will most often post about. The program should concern everyone who eats. The most brief explanation of it is that it is a three part program requiring premise identification; a seven digit number linked to GPS coordinates of any place that houses or holds animals of twenty nine species from clams to cattle. Then requires one of two types of electronic identification devices on the animals, the AIN or GIN; the AIN is an individual animal assignation consisting of 15 digits including the 3 digit country code (840 in the US) for animals that are raised with animals of different ages or from different farms of origin, GIN is a 13 digit number with the country code for animals typically raised from birth to slaughter in groups like broiler chickens or clams. The final component is animal tracking which is the report within 24 hours of any “event” involving any of the animals covered. Events are such things as visits to the vet, sale of the animal, movement of the animal, vaccinations and medications, death, slaughter, loss of animal or tag, malfunctioning tag, application of tag, or sighting of animal.

This is the death knell for rural America, private property rights and even civilization as we know it. That may sound over the top, but consider for a moment that civilization is based on agriculture. Civility exists only in times of plenty brought about by the production of more than is necessary for basic survival. Hungry people do not remain civil for long. Currently, in the US, less than 2% of the populace are involved in agriculture. This is down from 25% in the 1950’s.

Last month JoAnn Emerson, my esteemed Congressional Representative, introduced the Talent/Emerson legislation again and picked up four sponsors this time. It’s now HR1018, and is co sponsored by Paul, Duncan, and Boozman. I think she really believes the legislation is a good idea, but it is a mess.

At a minimum there are three things that must be amended in order to make the bill anything other than fully horrible. First, premise identification must be specifically precluded from being required for services of any variety, be it access to traditional marketing venues, veterinary services or purchase of feed. Secondly, federal funding of any mandatory state programs on any level must be restricted. Also, voluntary needs to be defined. Or barring that, provision must be made to allow people to withdraw and have their information fully expunged from the database at no expense to themselves.

Here is the bill…

HR 1018 IH
110th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 1018

To amend the Animal Health Protection Act to prohibit the Secretary of Agriculture from implementing or carrying out a National Animal Identification System or similar requirement and to require the Secretary to protect information obtained as part of any voluntary animal identification system.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 13, 2007

Mrs. EMERSON (for herself, Mr. BOOZMAN, Mr. PAUL, and Mr. DUNCAN) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture

A BILL

To amend the Animal Health Protection Act to prohibit the Secretary of Agriculture from implementing or carrying out a National Animal Identification System or similar requirement and to require the Secretary to protect information obtained as part of any voluntary animal identification system.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. PROHIBITION ON MANDATORY ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION PROGRAM.

Section 10409 of the Animal Health Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 8308) is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(c) Prohibition on Mandatory Animal Identification Program- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall not implement or carry out, and no Federal funds shall be used to implement or carry out, a National Animal Identification System, or similar requirement, that mandates the participation of livestock owners.’.
SEC. 2. PROTECTION OF INFORMATION IN A VOLUNTARY ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM.

Section 10409 of the Animal Health Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 8308) (as amended by section 1) is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(d) Protection of Information in a Voluntary Animal Identification System-
`(1) DEFINITION OF ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM- In this subsection, the term `animal identification system’ means a voluntary system for identifying or tracing animals that is established by the Secretary.
`(2) PROTECTION FROM DISCLOSURE-
`(A) IN GENERAL- Information obtained through the animal identification system shall not be disclosed except as provided in this subsection.
`(B) WAIVER OF PRIVILEGE OR PROTECTION- The provision of information to the animal identification system and the disclosure of information in accordance with this subsection shall not constitute a waiver of any applicable privilege or protection under Federal law, including trade secret protection.
`(3) LIMITED RELEASE OF INFORMATION- The Secretary may disclose information obtained through the animal identification system if–
`(A) the Secretary determines that livestock may be threatened by a disease or pest;
`(B) the release of the information is related to actions the Secretary is authorized to take under this subtitle; and
`(C) the Secretary determines that the disclosure of the information to a government entity or person is necessary to assist the Secretary in carrying out the purposes of–
`(i) this subtitle; and
`(ii) the animal identification system.
`(4) MANDATORY DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION- The Secretary shall disclose information obtained through the animal identification system regarding particular animals to–
`(A) the person who owns or controls the animals, if the person requests the information in writing;
`(B) the Attorney General for the purpose of law enforcement;
`(C) the Secretary of Homeland Security for the purpose of homeland security;
`(D) the Secretary of Health and Human Services for the purpose of protecting the public health;
`(E) an entity pursuant to an order of a court of competent jurisdiction; and
`(F) the government of a foreign country if disclosure of the information is necessary to trace animals that pose a disease or pest threat to livestock or a danger to human health, as determined by the Secretary.
`(5) PROHIBITION ON DISCLOSURE UNDER STATE OR LOCAL LAW- Any information relating to animal identification that a State or local government obtains from the Secretary shall not be made available by the State or local government pursuant to State or local law requiring disclosure of information or records to the public.’.

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