1. The Texas Legislature did pass a bill (HB 1361) in a recent session authorizing the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) to "develop and implement an animal identification system consistent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Identification System (NAIS)."
2. Thus far, the TAHC has only developed PROPOSED regulations for PREMISES IDENTIFICATION ONLY. The proposed regulations were approved at a TAHC commissioners' meeting on December 6, 2005.
3. Public comment (written) regarding those PROPOSED regulations ended on February 6, 2006.
4. There is a public meeting regarding the proposed regulations in Austin on Thursday, February 16, 2006.
5. Remember...Regulations are not law. Laws are passed by the Legislature. Regulations are written by bureaucrats at state agencies. Regulations must be consistent with the law.
6. HB 1361 (the law) also says that "The program is voluntary until the federal government requires a mandatory animal ID program, at which time the state program and fee would become mandatory."
7. The Congress is expected to vote on the federal NAIS law "in the summer of 2006."
Call to action: MANY, MANY PEOPLE!
A. Large numbers of constituents must contact their Congressmen and Senators to influence them to vote against NAIS in it's current form when it is acted on "in the summer of 2006."
B. Large numbers of constituents must contact their State Representatives and State Senators to influence them to be against NAIS in its current form. The elected state officials task is to make sure that Texas doesn't get ahead of the federal government by making the program mandatory in Texas BEFORE it is mandatory at the federal level. This is currently in place by the language of HB 1361.
C. Large numbers of constituents must contact their State Representatives and State Senators to get them to voice their lack of support for NAIS to the Texas Congressional delegation (Congressmen and Senators) so they will feel the pressure to vote against NAIS in its current form when it is acted on "in the summer of 2006." This is a common practice at the state level when state level legislators want to let the national level legislators what they think about an issue.
D. When the Congress defeats NAIS at the federal level, then it will not roll down to us at the state level.
What would be appropriate for NAIS?
Apply it ONLY to animals that occupy large scale confinement and feeding operations (CAFO) like beef feedlots, swine confinement houses, and chicken confinement houses where 99.?% of the mainstream food supply comes from.
It MIGHT also be applied to large processing plants that put meat into the mainstream food supply that comes direct from producers, e.g. spent dairy cows, etc. That should NOT include small processing plants that do not put meat into distribution channels for interstate commerce.
The best thing to do would be to just let it die totally.
Backup info from the official web site of the TAHC regarding NAIS...
Fact Sheet from the Texas Animal Health Commission Premises Identification Proposed Regulations Commissioners for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) approved proposed regulations for Texas' premises and animal identification program at their meeting December 6, 2005.
Why these regulations were proposed.
During the recent legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1361, authorizing the TAHC to develop and implement an animal identification system consistent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Identification System (NAIS). HB 1361 (Chapter 161.056 of the Texas Agriculture Code) also authorizes the TAHC to determine when premises identification will be required and to assess and collect fees for premises registration.
Additional info... HB 1361 by Representative Hardcastle authorizes the TAHC to establish a premise animal ID program and charge a fee for participation in this program. The program is voluntary until the federal government requires a mandatory animal ID program, at which time the state program and fee would become mandatory. The goal of the animal ID program is to provide for disease control and enhance the ability to trace disease-infected animals or animals that have been exposed to disease. The information collected by the commission is exempt from public disclosure requirements but may be released to certain governmental entities.
As the NAIS is phased in, the TAHC's program also will evolve. TAHC commissioners have proposed regulations at this time for premises identification only. Premises identification is the foundation for all other components of the NAIS.
Basics of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).
The goal of the NAIS is to enable animal health officials to identify locations where infected or exposed animals have been and to track animal movement from those locations within 48 hours, in the event of an animal disease outbreak. Three main components comprise the system:
Premises identification defines a geographic site, such as ranches, farms, feedlots, livestock markets, slaughter establishments, rendering or carcass collection points, veterinary clinics, livestock show, fair or exhibition sites, quarantine facilities, laboratories, ports of entry, or any other facilities where animals are handled. These include cattle, horses, mules, asses, sheep, goats and hogs; exotic livestock; domestic fowl, such as chickens, turkeys, and game birds; and poultry and exotic fowl.
The premises number is a unique 7-character code, issued by the TAHC or USDA. Owners or managers can register their premises and obtain the unique code online at the TAHC web site at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us.
Applications also may be obtained at many cooperative extension service offices, livestock markets, veterinary clinics or from livestock and poultry associations. As of early December, more than 4,200 premises in Texas had been registered. In the U.S. (including Texas), about 160,000 have been registered.
A person who owns or manages two or more locations and commingles animals may register the locations under one premises number. However, if a person maintains livestock on multiple locations but does not commingle the animals, then each location should be registered separately.
Animal identification, when implemented, will require that certain species of animals are tagged with a uniquely numbered 15-digit electronic identification device when they are moved from their herd of origin, or are commingled with animals from other premises. The device is intended to remain with the animal for life. If a device is lost, the animal can be retagged.
Under the national animal identification system (NAIS), still in development, premises numbers will NOT be imprinted on the animal identification devices. The unique 7-character premises identification and the 15-digit animal identification device number will correlate only in records.
Each animal identification device will be individually numbered.
In the NAIS, some species, such as commercially produced swine or poultry, may be identified by group/lot numbers, provided the animals are held and managed as a group throughout the pre-harvest production process.
Animal tracking, the final component of the national plan, will involve recording and reporting those animals moved, sold, commingled or slaughtered. This component, when implemented, will enable efficient tracing of animals for disease eradication efforts.
Additional NAIS information and links can be found on the TAHC web site at:
Proposed TAHC premises identification regulations.
Prior to July 1, 2006, premises in Texas may be registered at no charge, and the premises identification number will remain valid through June 30, 2008.
Although the 7-character premises identification number will not change, the premises registration must be renewed July 1, 2008, and every 24 months thereafter. At renewal, the proposed regulations provide for a yearly premises registration fee of $10, paid biennially. The $20 two-year registration fee is to be submitted to the TAHC at the time of registration renewal.
On July 1, 2006, premises registration will be compulsory in Texas. All persons who own, manage or are caretakers for locations where livestock, exotic livestock, poultry, or exotic poultry are handled must register their premises with the TAHC and submit the $20 two-year fee. Renewal and fee payment will be required every 24 months thereafter.
Privacy considerations under the proposed TAHC regulations.
Information collected by the TAHC for premises or animal identification is exempt from public disclosure requirements under the Texas Public Information Act.
Compliance and the proposed regulations.
Although the TAHC commissioners always urge voluntary compliance with agency regulations, the proposals include penalties for noncompliance.
The Texas Agriculture Code (law) may be found on the TAHC website at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us , by selecting the "Statutes and Regulations"