Schrader to serve on Ag Committee

Carla Axtman


Senator Jeff Merkley appears to have secured a seat on the Environmental and Public Works Committee. And Oregon growers are practically dancing in the furrows at the news that Congressman Kurt Schrader is on the House Committee on Agriculture.

OPB is also reporting that Congressman Peter DeFazio will chair the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee. Congressman Earl Blumenauer is now the second ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, which reportedly gives Earl juice with Obama on tax law changes for 2009.

  • Dave Porter (unverified)

    Congressman Blumenauer is now positioned to advocate, if he would, for what could be the most significant legislation (after the stimulus package, perhaps) of Obama’s new administration: a gas tax (or a more general carbon tax). As Tom Friedman wrote recently “Without a higher gas tax or carbon tax, Obama will lack the leverage to drive critical pieces of his foreign and domestic agendas.” (here).

    I hope Earl is paying attention to the arguments of Friedman and others on both the left and right for a revenue neutral gas tax. Friedman further wrote, and I agree:

    “A gas tax reduces gasoline demand and keeps dollars in America, dries up funding for terrorists and reduces the clout of Iran and Russia at a time when Obama will be looking for greater leverage against petro-dictatorships. It reduces our current account deficit, which strengthens the dollar. It reduces U.S. carbon emissions driving climate change, which means more global respect for America. And it increases the incentives for U.S. innovation on clean cars and clean-tech.”

    Does anyone know Congressman Blumenauer’s position on a national gas or carbon tax?

  • Joanne Rigutto (unverified)

    Good Lord! There may be hope in the antiNAIS (national animal ID system) battle after all.

    One of the things that convinced me to vote for Kurt in the first place was that when I asked him about his position on NAIS -

    1) He actually knew what the NAIS was. 2) He had a moderate position on it.

    Now he's going to be on the House Ag Committee. Yipee!!! We narrowly missed being frog marched into a mandatory NAIS in the 2008 Farm Bill. It was only by work by a few congress members on the committee and a lot of phone calling, emailing, and faxes that we escaped.

    Happy and cautiously optimistic in Mulino. Time to go out and hug the goats.... ;-)

  • Greg D. (unverified)

    It is VERY good news that a member from a state that grows specialty crops has been appointed to the Ag committee. Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope that control of national Ag policy can be taken from the commodity states. I doubt it, but it is nice to dream. Wheat, soy and corn lobbies and their corporate friends are continuing to screw the taxpayer, the consumer and the government. Congratulations to Kurt Schrader on the appointment. Please don't let ADM buy you - like it has already done for the rest of the committee!!!!!

    Solidarity Forever.

  • (Show?)

    He actually knew what the NAIS was.

    Joanne, would you mind telling the rest of the class?

  • Joanne Rigutto (unverified)

    A 'Brief' Discription of NAIS

    OK here goes.

    What is NAIS anyway? And by the way, before I embark on this rather long winded response, thank you Kari, for asking.

    The National Animal ID System, also known as the NAIS, is a system in which the locations holding, or managing or on which livestock or poultry is ocasionally held or managed are registered into state and/or federally held databases. These properties, known as premises, are located geographically via their 911 addresses and/or latitude/longitude coordinates in the database and are issued a unique 7 digit number which is associated with the location in the database.

    Livestock and poultry animals, as well as many animals used in aquaculture are issued individual unique ID numbers, unless, as in the industrial poultry and swine industries, the animals all move in a group or lot from birth/hatch to slaughter. These animals are allowed to be identified by a group or lot number. Individual animal ID numbers (AIN) are issued by a federally approved AIN allocator (usually a tag or microchip manufacturer), while the group/lot ID number is generated by the manager of the location that the group/lot is originated on. Animals that are individually identified are registered in government or privately held animal ID databases. Animals identified by group/lot may be registered by the owner/managers private database. The AIN consists of a 15 alphanumeric code which begins with 840 for animals born in the USA, 840 being the internationally recognized numberic code for the USA. The AIN is linked to the PIN in the animal registration database. Entry into this database is in addition to any breed registry the animal may be in, however, in the UK, where this system is already established, many breed registries are authorized by the government as AIN allocators. In addition to the premises that the animal is registered to, other data associated with the AIN are owner, species, breed, age, sex, physical description.

    Movements of registered animals will be entered into either government or privately held databases. In 2007 or 2008 Washington state set up their own animal movement database, in Wisconsin, a private animal ID database is run by a dairy consortium and I believe that they are positioned to be approved by that state and the federal government to maintain and opperate a movement database as well. Another privately held, federally approved company is Global Animal Management, the company hired in 2005 or 2006 by the state of Idaho to mine their brand registration database, which generated over 10,000 unique premises ID numbers, unbeknownst to the actual property owners.

    Movements/events reportable are movement onto/off of a premises, birth of an animal, death of an animal (slaughter, predator kill, death by disease, died of old age, euthanasia for injury, etc.), sightings by veterinarians, application of a tag, retirement of a tag, loss of a tag, purchase of an animal, sale of an animal. Each reportable movement or event is assigned a code. The state of Washington's animal movement database, the only one I currently have information on, lists these data fields for it's movement/event reporting - PIN, AIN, date moved on, date moved off, location moved to, date moved to new location, reported movement, etc.. The instructions for reporting to the database are somewhat complicated, and it's set up to be used online and allows the person reporting to select fields as opposed to entering many strings of alphanumeric code.

    Originally, USDA wanted all data to be entered online. When it was pointed out to USDA that not all livestock/poultry/aquaculture animal owners had access to a computer or the internet, USDA decided that all of this information could be sent in via paper form or via phone reporting. What this would entail is entering strings of numbers onto the paper form and then someone else would have to manually enter the information in the database at a later time, or the animal owner/manager or the premises manager would have to enter many long strings of code on the phone. If there are any mistakes the tracing is compromised.

    The system covers all premises, animals and owners/managers, regardless of commercial or noncommercial status or number/type of livestock/poultry/aquaculture animals kept/managed. The system has been in development for many years, but only really accelerated after 9/11 and then accelerated even more after the 2003 BSE infected cow detected in Washington state. USDA assumed authority for impementation of the NAIS through Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9, in which they were tasked with identifying animals imported into the USA. USDA took this to mean that they should apply the system to all livestock/poultry/aquaculture animals in the USA.

    There are many issues associated with NAIS implimentation, especially as a mandatory system, not the least of which is that, technically, USDA doesn't have jurisdiction in and of itself, over people not directly engaged in interstate or international commerce. At least not to the point that they are excersizing it. USDA has been implementing the NAIS through cooperative agreements with state departments of agriculture, private breed associations, the extension service which runs the FFA and 4H programs, and other private and public agencies.

    One state has made premises registration mandatory for everyone (Wisconsin), others have made premises registration mandatory for certain groups (Indiana), others have made premises registration and animal ID mandatory for still other groups (Michigan). 7 southern states signed cooperative agreements with each other in which participation the equine (horse) passport program, which allows people to transport their horses across state lines with out being required to pass monthly health checks, requires NAIS premises registration and animal ID. If an equine issued a passport is ID electronically via microchip, currently the only NAIS compliant ID recognized by USDA, the person transporting the equine must carry with them a chip reader and render that for use to any official needing to verify the identity of the horse. So if you get pulled over by a cop, or if you're at a show or on a trail ride, and your horse is chipped, you need a reader to loan the person if the want to read your horse's chip, if your horse has one. If your horse already had a chip before this passport program, that chip is not NAIS compliant and it's my understanding that you'll need to have a new chip implanted and buy a new reader. The old chips opperate on a different frequency and the numbers aren't registered with the NAIS databases, and in any event, I don't think that the old chips had the 840 country code.

    The official justification for the NAIS is to enable 48 hour traceback/traceforeward in the event of an animal disease outbreak. USDA originally had plans to make the system mandatory in the USA, preliminary goal for mandatory implementation with 100% comliance by sometime in 2008. When substantial pushback was encountered from private animal owners and small producers as well as many in the cattle industry, USDA declared that the system would remain voluntary with a capital 'V'. Unfortunately, USDA has continued to work behind the scenes to encourage states to mandate participation and a new schedule for mandatory compliance is outlined in USDA's current business plan to advance tracability, available on USDA's NAIS website.

    USDA wants this system so that in the event of a disease outbreak that affects US international markets for animals and animal products, that those markets can be reopened earlier than they might if a system of this type is not in place.

    For one thing, it isn't going to work the way USDA says it will. For one thing, obtaining 90%-100% compliance is not possible, even under mandatory implementation, for various reasons. As seen in the 2007 foot and mouth outbreak (FMD is one of the reasons USDA uses to justify the NAIS) in Surrey, England, even with this type of tracability, which the UK has already, the UK markets stayed closed for the usual time after an outbreak. When the markets were opened and animal movements were allowed prematurely, the disease spread, as it hadn't actually been contained yet. It took over 6 months for the area around Surrey to finaly have all movement and import restrictions to finally be lifted, and this was after the last incident of the disease had been identified and removed.

    Another problem with NAIS as far as enabling the rapid containment and control of disease, is that many diseases are spread by objects (fomites) and people moving from one premises to another. This was true in the equine influenza outbreak in Australia in 2007. A virus that was brought into the country by an infected imported horse, and which turned into a full fleged outbreak of disease over a wide area of Australia because most of the quaranteen protocols were violated, and movement restrictions on animals, people and fomites were almost completely ignored, as well as vaccination not being implemented untill late in the outbreak. In fact, vaccination was the primary method for erradication of the virus in the outbreak area, and is now no longer allowed in Australia.

    <h2>This is just scratching the surface of what NAIS is and why so many people are against it. I, and many others, believe that if implemented as a completely voluntary system, much like USDA's Quality Source Age (QSA) verrification program, then it could be very helpful to those participating directly in the international markets. Some markets are already requireing this type of tracability from their importers, most notably Japan for US beef, and recently the European Union member states for cattle and beef imported from Brazil. If you're exporting to a country that requires that level of tracability in the animals and products you're shipping, and you want to jump through those hoops, knock yourself out. But don't require me to put a chip in my horse so that Tyson can ship chicken to the baltic states. Which is pretty much why some producers and government agencies want me and everyone else to chip their animals.</h2>

connect with blueoregon