Many people (here and here for example) have been writing about the National Animal Identification System. It is designed to track animals in the event of an animal disease outbreak. My first thought when I heard of this was, Why? Livestock can already be tracked pretty easily through all the tests that you have to do before they can move. Many a day when I was doing cattle work my fingers would ache from the all forms I filled out, pressing hard enough to get through all the layers.

My dear state has decided to include horses too. Great. I’m not sure exactly what that would mean because there are no details to be found anywhere. But if I had to let the government know any time I wanted to take my horse off the property I would be pretty mad. Most of the time I don’t know for sure until I get up that morning. I’m getting too old (or too smart) to show in adverse conditions so if it is nasty I don’t go.
Or I may get a whim to go somewhere and head out. has a link here where you can find the regulations for your state. I wrote to my state representative and senator today.

I am writing to oppose implementation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) in Ohio. The NAIS is designed to be a mandatory tracking system for livestock and horses. Owners will be required to register their animals with the government and report on their movements.

The stated purpose of this system is to aid in animal disease outbreaks. However, there are already many systems in place that can be used for this purpose. When bovine sponiform encephalopathy was found in Washington the affected animal was traced back to her place of birth in Canada in less than 48 hours. State regulatory agencies have all the information they need on animals going to slaughter. So why add another level of bureaucracy?

This system discriminates against small producers. As designed now large producers will only need to register herds of animals. Small backyard producers will need to register each and every animal they have regardless of whether or not they will ever be in the public food chain. This places most of the expense and labor on small producers when most of the disease outbrakes are seen in larger factory farms. I prefer to buy my animal products from local organic producers. I do not want them to be regulated out of business.

Ohio’s system is designed to be more restrictive than the national because it includes horses. I am a horse owner. I already comply with the regulations to have my horses blood tested annually and have health certificates every 30 days when I plan to travel across state lines with them. Showing horses is a very popular activity in Ohio. If we are required to let the government know ahead of time whenever we plan of transporting our horses off of the farm the paperwork will be overwhelming. Many people show at least once a week and may travel for lessons or trail riding in between shows.

I am also a veterinarian. I know the financial hardship and paperwork burden that livestock owners are already under. I administer the health tests required before they move their animals now. There is no need to add more burden. Many of the people I work with are 4-H and FFA youth with one or two animals. They will be required to register under this system to take their animals to the fair. The fairgrounds will also be required to register to allow animals to come there. How many opportunities will be lost to us because venues don’t wish to do the paperwork? Will the state parks close their horse trails because they don’t wish to have the hassle of complying?

I am against big government. I value my privacy. I do not want my movements tracked by the government. I do not want to lose Ohio’s fine tradition of small family farms providing high quality livestock. For these reasons I oppose the implementation of the National Animal Identification System.