Tell USDA No on Mandatory Electronic Animal Identification
Support Small and Mid-Size Livestock Producers
On January 18th, 2023, USDA published a proposed rule (Docket No. APHIS-2021-0020), “Use of Electronic Identification Eartags as Official Identification in Cattle and Bison.” This would mandate electronic livestock identification to track cattle crossing state lines.
The USDA claims it will help with animal health, but it doesn’t. Mandatory electronic animal identification does not address food safety or animal disease concerns. Current, low-tech methods are working effectively. And it doesn’t do anything at all for food safety, since the tracking ends at the slaughterhouse. Instead, it unreasonably burdens farmers and ranchers, while giving corporate multinational meatpackers yet another market advantage.
Mandatory electronic animal identification is a step in the wrong direction, especially at a time when the negative impacts of corporate consolidation of our food supply are becoming ever clearer, with shortages and skyrocketing prices (while the corporations’ profits also skyrocket).
The real reason for mandatory electronic animal identification is to satisfy monopolistic meatpacker interests to increase their exports markets, their profits, and their control of the U.S. cattle industry.
For decades, multinational meatpacking corporations, high-tech companies, and the USDA have pushed mandatory electronic identification for livestock, particularly cattle. It aims to promote international trade, thus maximizing the meatpacking companies’ profits, while the high-tech companies will make millions selling tags, readers, and all the related infrastructure … all at the expense of farmers and ranchers.
The proposal for electronic ID was defeated in 2010 by massive opposition, from organic farmers, conventional ranchers, livestock sale barns, horse owners, homesteaders, and consumers who want to buy from American producers. But Agribusiness and its allies in the USDA are now trying to bring it back.
The deadline for submitting comments through the Federal Register is Monday, March 20th at 11:59pm Eastern. Tell USDA to withdraw the proposal.
Mandatory electronic animal ID will harm the economic viability of independent cattle producers and reduce security and resiliency of our food supply.
ACTION TO TAKE
1. Submit your comment to USDA asking them to WITHDRAW the proposed rule on mandatory electronic animal identification. Use the link here for the Federal Register by 11:59pm EDT Monday, March 20th.
1. Mandatory electronic livestock identification creates no food safety benefit and will not prevent foodborne illnesses because the tracking ends at the time of slaughter. The vast majority of food safety issues stem from slaughter and processing, not the farm. This proposal takes the safety focus off of where the problems have occurred (the massive processing plants), a diversionary tactic from the real reforms that are needed for food safety, such as improved oversight of slaughterhouses and food processing facilities, and increased inspections of imported foods.
2. Programs such as mandatory electronic animal identification that burden independent livestock farmers and ranchers will hurt efforts to develop safer, decentralized food systems.
3. Mandatory electronic livestock identification unfairly burdens independent family farm livestock producers & taxpayers. It’s not only the costs of the electronic tags themselves, but all the related infrastructure, particularly the readers and software. The rapid changes in technology also mean that readers may need to be replaced frequently, creating endless future costs.
4. Mandatory electronic livestock identification is not a proven effective tool for disease prevention. USDA has been very successful in eradicating diseases through existing, time-proven, low-tech programs. USDA should not be allowed to supplant these successful programs with an unproven system that will consume massive resources in administration and bureaucracy, rather than focusing on the prevention of disease.
5. The proposal favors corporate-controlled operations in which the company owns the animals from birth to death, because they are allowed to use “Group/lot identification,” i.e. simply designating the group of thousands of animals with an ID number instead of electronically tagging each animal. Since independent livestock producers are required to tag each animal, the program creates a huge advantage for vertically integrated, corporate agri-business and meatpackers! This drives consolidation of our food system further, making it difficult, if not impossible, for small and mid-sized livestock producers to survive.
6. Mandatory electronic livestock identification creates privacy concerns and increases corporate control over the livestock industry. Mandatory electronic animal identification could create potential risks for farmers’ private financial information and fuel increased corporate control over the livestock industry by giving packers more information about how animals are produced. This information could potentially be used to discriminate against farmers based on the information available.
Federal Register comment portal –
shortlink to portal – https://bit.ly/3XYn17l
FARFA video – https://fb.watch/jgl1CweHyP/
FARFA webpage –
APHIS proposal plus links to other documents and comments –🖨️ Print post