ACTION ALERT: Mandatory Requirement for NAIS in School Lunch Program Put in House Agriculture Appropriations Bill. CALL NOW!
The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has included pro-NAIS provisions in the Agriculture Appropriations bill for 2009. According to the press release, the bill would require USDA to purchase meat products for the School Lunch Program from livestock premises registered with National Animal Identification System beginning in July 2009. This is a back-door method for mandating NAIS through the power of the purse strings. The bill also provides a total NAIS funding level of $14.5 million or about $4.8 million above 2008. We must stop these provisions from going any further!
The full House Appropriations Committee will meet about the Agriculture Appropriations bill this Thursday, June 26. Sometime after that, it will go to the full House. We also need to contact our Senators now, to keep them from doing the same thing.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
1) Call or fax your US Representative. You can look up who represents you at
www.congress.org or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 866-340-9281.
2) Call or fax the members of the House Appropriations Committee who come from your State. The members are listed at:
http://appropriations.house.gov/members110th.shtml When you see a member who comes from your state, click on his or her name to get contact information.
3) Call or fax your Senators. You can look up who represents you at www.congress.org or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 866-340-9281.
With each person, ask to speak to the staffer who handles appropriations. If you get their voice mail, leave the following message, or something in your own words that makes the same points:
MESSAGE: My name is ____. I am a constituent [or live in your state, if you aren’t in their district]. I am calling because the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee has inserted language requiring the School Lunch Program to only buy meat from farms registered in the National Animal Identification System. I am against NAIS, and I do not want it to be tied to school lunch programs. NAIS, which tracks live animals, will not improve food safety because most food safety problems start at the slaughterhouse and food processing facilities. Funding for NAIS, particularly any mandatory NAIS, needs to be stopped. Please call me back at _____ to let me know where the Congressman/woman stands on this issue.
When you talk to the staffer, be sure to make the same points as in the message, and expand on them with some of the talking points below.
For more information, contact the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance at info (at) farmandranchfreedom.org
The press release, from Chairwoman DeLauro (D-CT) is available at
MORE TALKING POINTS – state your concerns in your own words
* This bill uses the government’s power to economically coerce farmers into NAIS. That is not a “voluntary” program.
* This bill throws good money after bad, supporting a program that is not sound economically or scientifically.
* USDA has presented no science to back up its claims that NAIS will address livestock diseases.
* The USDA has never completed a cost/benefit analysis to show that NAIS is worthwhile.
* NAIS will not improve food safety. The massive Hallmark/Westland beef recall this past year was caused by the slaughterhouse employees’ failure to follow existing regulations for handling “downer” cows. Mandating NAIS on cattle producers will not make anybody obey the laws we already have.
* NAIS will not help Americans compete in the world market. If it is mandatory, or even adopted by most producers, those who participate will not get premiums for their meat.
* Pouring more money into the program is a waste of precious tax dollars that could be better spent on safety inspections at packing and processing plants, where most food contamination occurs.
* Using the school lunch program to force farmers into NAIS undermines the growing farm-to-school program, which helps children get fresh, local, and sustainably raised foods. Local farmers should not be forced into an unpopular program that has nothing to do with food quality or safety in order to provide food for our children.
* The claim that USDA has achieved 33% of its Premises Registration goal is wrong. USDA computes its percentage of premises registered based on farmers who answer the agriculture census. Hundreds of thousands of additional horse owners, families with a few chickens, suburbanites with a pet pot-bellied pig, and others like them are technically covered by NAIS, but USDA ignores them when it reports its supposed successes to Congress. The vast majority of people who will be impacted by NAIS either oppose it or are still unaware of it!
* NAIS has never been specifically approved by Congress. This massive program, which will impact millions of people, should be addressed through full and open debate, not snuck in through appropriations.