Granted that RFID tagging has gained begrudging acceptance by much of the manufacturing and retailing world, and has overcome some of the same obstacles listed below. But in general, there is a benefit to the user in inventory control, item tracking, loss prevention, etc. As one of the NAIS vendors involved explained:
He thinks the government took the wrong approach in trying to sell the animal ID program to farmers. “Animal health and bioterrorism didn’t resonate with farmers,” he says. “They worried that the government would funnel the information to the IRS, and that it just wanted to tax their cattle.” A better approach for the USDA, would have been to give the NAIS a commercial spin, promoting it as a means to help farmers and producers brand their beef, thereby enabling them to command premium prices.
Issues swirling around NAIS
Cost of implementation:
thousands of small farmers are resisting the NAIS rollout and refusing to allow their animals to be tagged and tracked. Some complain about the $1.50-per-tag cost, as well as the labor involved in tagging hundreds of animals.
“The events that would be reportable [to a NAIS database] would be normal everyday events, such as selling, bringing animals to the vet, showing and butchering. This is a significant intrusion into people’s daily lives.”
“There is absolutely no evidence that this is an improvement over existing methods of tracking animal diseases.” She cites three recent instances of tuberculosis outbreaks among cattle in California that were traced using existing methods.
Lack of standardization:
the USDA has been lax in enforcing standards in premises registration. Currently, 40 states use the NAIS Standard Premises Registration System…. The rest of the states use a different system, generally referred to as the Compliant Premises Registration Systems of the States.
3rd party control (and profit motives):
When a disease outbreak occurs, state and federal animal health officials submit information requests to the animal tracking databases, which are intentionally not under the control of government officials…. the involvement of these private firms in maintaining the databases has further fueled the suspicion by some farmers that the companies that initially pushed for the technology did so primarily to further their own profit interests-not those of farmers or the public.
And the final straw, religious objection (here’s the part you send to all of your friends–emphasis mine):
For instance, many Amish and Mennonite farmers have quit agriculture as a result of NAIS, claiming the Bush plan is a sign of the “mark of the beast” foretold in the Bible’s Book of Revelation. In a letter to Wisconsin agriculture officials, a group of Old Order Amish farmers said the “premises registration animal ID issue is an act of the anti-Christ.”