In comments at a USDA National Animal Identification System listening session, the Nebraska Farm Bureau said it supports a voluntary system.
"Nebraska's livestock producers understand the importance of animal disease control and traceability," said Sherry Vinton of Arthur, "but NAIS has raised numerous issues. Nebraska Farm Bureau believes that four important concerns need to be continuously monitored in order for the program to operate effectively: cost, confidentiality, education, and liability."
Food animal producers of all sizes could see increased costs for NAIS, she said, and while most businesses are able to pass increases to consumers, producers can't and would have to bear the additional burden. Farm Bureau believes the federal government should bear more of the costs of the program, Vinton said.
Producers need more clarity from USDA about who would have access to their data used in the NAIS, and how producers can be assured protection from unintended use of the data they submit, Vinton said. She called on Congress to pass legislation ensuring the privacy of producers' information from access by competitors, activist groups and government agencies not directly associated with animal health protection. USDA also needs to do more to educate food animal producers about NAIS, she adds.
"Nebraska's farmers and ranchers also must be protected from the consequences of the actions of others, after their animals are no longer under their control. This type of liability protection includes nuisance suits naming everyone who handled a particular animal," she said. "Producers are much more likely to participate in the voluntary program if liability protection exists."