Farm lobbyist: USDA study proves animal ID too costly for small farms

A farm lobby is suing USDA over national animal ID.
A farm lobby is suing USDA over national animal ID.
The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) unfairly harms small cattle ranchers and dairy farmers, according to a farm lobby group which pointed to the government's own research to make its case today.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which last year sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop implementation of NAIS, said a USDA cost-benefit analysis proves that the system will put small farmers "out of business."

"The government's own numbers show that a small farmer will pay at least twice and in some cases nearly three times the costs per animal to participate in NAIS as will the operators of the large confined animal feeding operations (CAFO)," said Pete Kennedy, acting president of the fund.

The USDA analysis, released April 29, found that costs of implementing the ID system range from $2.48 per animal for CAFOs with more than 5,000 cattle to $7.17 per animal for producers with less than 50 who do not tag their cattle.

Small farmers are already burdened by rising input costs and other fixed costs like maintenance of farm equipment.

Currently, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack is soliciting comments on implementation of the NAIS, which is intended to allow the government to better track disease outbreaks.