Farmers Fear Livestock ID Mandate
Tracking animals with RFID could prove pricey, they say
Computerworld - Independent livestock ranchers last week were quick to criticize signals that the new Congress may soon mandate implementation of the RFID-based National Animal Identification System.
Signing on to the NAIS program has been voluntary since it was first proposed in 2003, but Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the new chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said last week that he may soon push for the program to become mandatory.
Tagging livestock is costly and challenging, according to farmers.
The farmers and ranchers, and the industry groups that represent them, contend that a mandatory NAIS program would impose unnecessary costs and technical challenges on their businesses.
NAIS calls for using technology to tag and track cattle and other livestock from birth to the slaughterhouse. No technology has yet been chosen for the effort, though analysts expect that most farmers would use radio frequency identification tags.
The program aims to track animals through the supply chain to help health officials find the source of meat-borne diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.
Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program, last week insisted that participation in NAIS will remain voluntary and that the agency won’t limit participants to using a specific technology.
But Peterson argued that the effort has yet to see much success and needs a boost.
“USDA’s success in implementing the NAIS to date has been limited at best,” Peterson said. “Nearly $100 million has been spent to establish the system, and yet we still do not have a functioning system. Many other countries, including Canada and Australia, established functioning programs at a lower cost than we have already spent.”
Frank Albani, president of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Massachusetts, an organization based in Barre, Mass., that counts 900 small farmers among its members, argued that NAIS will benefit only RFID gear vendors and large meat producers and retailers while hurting small farmers. “They have [tracking] systems in place in Ireland and Australia, and they cost an exorbitant amount of money,” Albani said.
Large agribusinesses have already installed systems to track animals or meat that is shipped cross-country or internationally, he noted. On the other hand, smaller farmers generally sell their wares locally, so such a program isn’t needed for them, Albani said.
‘Points of Failure’
Karin Bergener, founder of the Hollow Rock, Tenn.-based Liberty Ark Coalition, said that the exact cost of using RFID chips on animals remains undetermined. However, she said that her group, which was established to fight NAIS, has estimated that costs in countries such as the U.K. and Australia can run as high as $69 per head of cattle, a total that could erase the profit margin for some species.
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Reduce federal infrastructure risk with compliance management and situational awareness
- IBM continuous monitoring and management solutions deliver real-time situational awareness to help federal agencies understand vulnerabilities, and protect the infrastructure.
- SANS: Next-Generation Datacenters = Next-Generation Security
- This whitepaper takes a look at some new technology that may allow security teams to implement more flexible and capable protection models in...
- SANS: Protecting Virtual Endpoints with McAfee Server Security Suite Essentials
- SANS review of McAfees Server Security Suite Essentials that address some of the emerging challenges of securing virtual platforms and cloud environments.
- Safeguarding the Next-Generation Data Center
- Use of virtual and cloud servers has exploded. Unfortunately, security often lags behind. McAfee recommends looking at innovative solutions in order to erect...
- Aberdeen: Securing the Evolving Datacenter
- This report highlights ways security technologies and services are evolving to provide the visibility and control needed to deploy workloads flexibly in the... All Government IT White Papers
- Is SQL Server AlwaysOn really as powerful? Tips and Tricks from the field With the introduction of AlwaysOn, Windows Clustering Services is now more critical than ever.
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center...
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily...
- On Demand: Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed, and it continues to escalate. IT must answer to users who demand access to their...
- DevOps with PureApplication System: Reduce cost and speed delivery with an integrated IBM Cloud solution Join this webcast to hear what ING Netherlands has been able to achieve while deploying DevOps tools from IBM Rational. An ING executive...
- All Government IT Webcasts