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Food & Health : Laws & Politics Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Group Accuses USDA of Continued Illegal NAIS Activity
By news release
Jan 12, 2009 - 6:07:32 PM

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R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America  “Fighting for the U.S. Cattle Producer”

For Immediate Release                                                                Contact: Shae Dodson, Communications Coordinator
January 12, 2009                                                                      Phone:  406-672-8969; e-mail: [email protected]

Group Accuses USDA of Continued Illegal NAIS Activity;

Seeks Help from Congress to Protect Producers from Agency’s Unlawful Actions

Billings, Mont. – In a letter sent today to USDA and Congress, and copied to state veterinarians in all 50 states, R-CALF USA alleges illegal activity on the part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with regard to the agency’s Dec. 22, 2008, memorandum that canceled Memorandum 575.19 originally issued on Sept. 22, 2008. The original memorandum would have forced mandatory premises registration under the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) upon livestock producers who participate in federal disease management programs.

“We are pleased that USDA canceled the September 2008 memo on the basis that the agency recognized it was improper to establish a standardized premises identification number as the sole premises identification number under the agency’s proposed NAIS without first conducting a rulemaking, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA),” said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group’s animal health committee.

“However, USDA has again violated its own regulations in the December 2008 memorandum by unlawfully mandating the use of a standardized PIN (premises identification number), which is actually an NAIS PIN, in the administration of federal disease programs,” he continued. “This action is unlawful. Until and unless the agency promulgates a rule to require the use of a standardized NAIS PIN, the agency has no authority to mandate that state animal health officials comply with the December 2008 memo.”

Thornsberry explained that USDA issued a final rule on July 18, 2007, to allow the use of a numbering system such as the standardized NAIS PIN to identify premises where animals are managed or held. However, the agency has not promulgated rules to implement the NAIS, and further, the agency expressly states in its final rule that use of the new numbering system (standardized, NAIS PIN) is not required by this final rule.

“This action (December 2008 memo) effectively converts USDA’s so-called ‘voluntary’ NAIS program into a scheme that mandates strict compliance with NAIS,” he said.

In the letter accusing USDA of illegal activity, R-CALF USA requested that the December 2008 memo “…immediately be canceled by the Administration, either on its own or by congressional action…and that (USDA) be directed to immediately inform each state animal health official that the agency no longer is requiring the use of the standardized NAIS PIN as a condition of producer participation in regulated animal disease programs, or for any other purpose.”

Note: To view/download R-CALF USA’s letter, please visit the “Animal Identification” link at


                                                                                                             # # #


R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit  or, call 406-252-2516.   


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