The first daily newspaper I worked for was about 1,200 miles and a couple of mountain ranges away from where I grew up and went to college.

About half the population of this little city in the West went to the same church and was serious, straight laced, but a generous people.  They did most of the white-collar jobs.  They didn’t get dirty and they did not go out much at night.

The other half of this city’s populace could not be more different.  Some went to the other churches on Sunday morning, but only after going out on Saturday night to any one of the city’s motley collections of country, rock, and honky tonk bars.  These were the folks that got dirty during the day working on the railroad and in the mines and factories.

Writers at this newspaper also fell into two camps.   Some did not care for feedback, period.  But some of us did.  When someone figured out I fell into that later camp, they told me specifically where to go.  Not far from the paper was a place we’d now call a convenience store, but bigger.

It was the first place our circulation trucks would drop our newspaper every afternoon.  There were always be people milling around waiting for it, and a good-sized crowd could develop if there was something going on that people cared about.

So, I’d go down there and hang out to hear what people said about what they were reading in the newspaper.  I really liked the feedback on stories where we were pushing the envelope a bit.   I once covered the kidnapping of the daughter of a prominent family from the straight-laced side of town where the comments I heard really helped direct where I went with the story.

That’s why I so much appreciate the instant feedback that we enjoy today.  I do not have to go stand around somewhere waiting for someone talk.  Feedback is everywhere at our fingertips.

In the last week, Food Safety News saw its comment lines light up after William Pape wrote, “NAIS:  Simpler Technology Fuels Fire.”  His contributed article is about possible new life in the National Animal Identification Scheme.  Pape, Executive Vice President of Colorado-based TraceGains Inc. wrote that: “A combination of market forces aligned with a simplified tracking technology, and some rare positive news may have reinvigorated USDA’s moribund, voluntary animal traceability initiative.”

We did not have to wait long to find out that lots of folks are passionate about the NAIS.

Vermont blogger Sharon Zecchinelli wrote: “I’ll ask you, as I’ve asked for the last 5 years, what will you do when the government decides that some piece of property of yours needs to be kept tabs on because of trade treaties? Don’t laugh. I never once in my life thought that just because pork producers in Iowa want to sell meat to Japan I’d be put in the position to have to report the whereabouts of my horse to the USDA.”

At Food Safety News, it’s not just the lively discussion that’s important.  It’s the ideas we get from those of you who choose to comment that helps guide and direct those issues we will be exploring in the future.

Until next time.

  • Karen lebens

    Just because a manufacturing rep wants to put a positive spin on NAIS and keep pushing does not mean that it has any more public support. NAIS was a bureaucratic nightmare from the start and it still is. A few industrial-size agricultural operations should not be making rules that every person in the country with a chicken has to follow. Let any company that wants to export do their own testing and convince their own overseas customers that it is trustworthy. Oh, I forgot- the USDA will try to block them if they do that. NAIS is a scam and well worth investigating as such should you have any extra time on your hands.

  • Ann

    Thanks for providing the opportunity to comment, approving the comments for viewing, and supplying the name of the article’s author. It is a welcome change from the orchestrated, pro-NAIS, press releases that masquerade as actual reporting.
    Ms. Zecchinelli’s comment really does summarize the complexity and the irrationality of NAIS.

  • Barbara

    I’m happy that you’ve written about our response to Mr Pape’s article. As we pointed out in those responses, Mr. Pape has a vested interest in the success of NAIS. His business would make money off of people like me who don’t want or need what he has to sell.
    I also found it interesting that his article was printed in a journal about food safety. As USDA has admitted, and as those of us opposed to NAIS have pointed out numerous times, NAIS has nothing to do with food safety or protecting food livestock. The purpose of NAIS is to facilitate imports and exports by lowering our standards to meet WTO regulations that consider inspection and quarantine to be unfair trade practices. But….it is those restrictions that have protected this country up until now. With NAIS in place, we will willingly allow foreign animal diseases into this country in the hope of being able to contain it and compartmentalize the country for continued trade. This is unrealistic, and will lead to the slaughter of hundreds, thousands or more of our healthy livestock when it inevitably fails. USDA, and the corporations they trade employees with, have sold out the American people for business interests. This is just plain wrong, and needs to be stopped. It is a cancer that has spread throughout our government, and can only be treated with generous doses of public protest. USDA has awakened a sleeping majority of farmers and livestock owners with their total disregard for the average American and our way of life. I have made it my purpose to fight them every step of the way. Never before in my life have I been so motivated to defend my civil rights or my country from the traitors within.

  • Joyce

    I oppose NAIS in any form. It doesn’t do anything about food safety. Our food safety problems have been related to food processing plants or slaughterhouses. I have horses which are not food animals but under NAIS I would have to become a stakeholder in my farm and register every horse in a database at no one knows what will cost. Microchips are $20 from the microchip companies but can only be put in by a vet (there is
    a safety issue on this), microchips can be changed, there is no safety there. A report (cost unknown) must be filed if the animal is moved off the property within 24 hours and another report when the animal comes back. Even animals who escape from their pastures must have reports filed. The reports and NAIS requirements are for all livestock, poultry, etc. Number doesn’t matter. You must do this if you even own
    1 chicken. Sorry but my horses are mine, not part of the National herd. My farm is mine. I am not a stakeholder. (check the dictionary on what that means.) I know that if it goes into effect, I will not be able to afford my horses. If it goes into effect, I will no longer need my large animal vets, nor my truck and trailer registrations or use. I will no longer need to buy hay, grain, supplements or gear. I refuse to register for a premise ID nor will I register/microchip any of my animals. NAIS should go into the trash can.

  • Karen

    I, too, find it very interesting that his article was published in a food safety journal for the same reason – the USDA has maintained since 2004 that NAIS is NOT a food safety program.
    Mr Pape and his corporation stand to profit handsomely if NAIS is implemented so does it not make sense that he would attempt to find another way to push this program?
    As Sharon stated, never did I think I would need to report the whereabouts of my horses because Big Ag wants to export meat to Japan.

  • Laura

    Where were you and Mr. Pape during the purported listening sessions that were held around the country this past spring? You could have heard some passion there.
    The consensus reached, (no need of the Delphi Technique) was in agreement with Mr. Pape about the moribund USDA. An employee that has exhibited a level of job performance as this employee of The People of the US to be far below expectations in all previous duty assignments and as such is not eligible for the job of overseeing the nations’ food production resources. Their actions show louder than words that they are more interested in outsourcing US agriculture to Third World nations than in protecting the US food supply. However, they have also been quoted to state that as their intention.
    During the course of the purported listening sessions farmers, ranchers and concerned consumers from around the nation stood up and aligned themselves with an eleven year old little girl who, opening the dance at the first purported listening session, stood up and stated emphatically, “NO NAIS! I will not participate. I have my rights. I have the Constitution at my back.” Who was she? Her name tag said, “NO NAIS”! Another name tag worn by another youngster was seen to read, “NO USDA”. (Apparently the USDA did not spread enough Cooperative Agreement money around to buy ‘everyone’ off!) Only those who were sent by organizations such as extension, IDAIRY, etc.—organizations who had accepted Cooperative Agreement money—supported NAIS at these listening sessions.
    Just prior to the opening of these purported listening sessions, during the last two days of the February comment period, the fax number to the Subcommittee of Livestock Dairy and Poultry in DC crashed. I called up the Chairman’s staff and was informed that there was so much ‘passion’ around the nation opposing NAIS that the fax number given out had finally just crashed due to being overwhelmed by the volume of the ‘passion’. I was given three more fax numbers to share with others instead of the faulty one. Close to 98% of our nation do not want NAIS.
    I recently read a paper written by a young man for a school assignment. “NAIS—An Unnecessary Treason” It seems that when a bureaucracy dreams up control measures that encumber your constitutional rights, some of our young people, the leaders of tomorrow, feel that constitutes treason.

  • Marsha

    It is time for USDA to get out of the marketing business for the corporations and work for the consumers.
    WHY would consumers want a system that will control the market with higher prices and stock our grocery shelves with imported meat that USDA does NOT inspect? Mr. Pape and USDA can trace the meat from the slaughterhouse to the grocery store because this is where the contramination occurs unless USDA invites more diseased cattle into the United States.
    Plain and simple NAIS is food market control and does NOTHING for food safety!