If rural America kicks the lite version of animal identification (ID) to the curb just as it did the National Animal Identification System (NAIS),  an economic study says export markets for U.S. beef and pork will be much smaller.

Funded by the U.S. Meat Export Federation and authored by five professors from three major state agricultural universities,  the study makes it clear that going without a national animal ID system is going to be costly for the U.S.

“The international marketplace for red meat is rapidly changing with animal identification (ID) and meat traceability systems becoming widely adopted in many key U.S. meat export destinations,” say the researchers from Colorado, Kansas, and Montana state universities.

“The United States lags behind many countries in adopting livestock and meat traceability systems, ” they continue. “As major meat importing and exporting counties adopt animal and meat tracking systems, the United States is becoming less competitive and risk losing market access.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently seeking public comment on its second attempt at animal ID.   It wants to know what people think about a sort of “lite” version of the abandoned NAIS.

Unlike NAIS, which was tech-heavy, pretty much top-down, and applied to every thing that moved on the farm without the benefit of motor, the new version only applies to animals moved interstate, will be run by state and tribal governments, will be low-tech, and implemented only through transparent federal regulation using full rule-making.

Comments submitted to date, however, are decidedly tilted against even the lite version of animal ID.  And, some of the same groups that raised a ruckus (and probably some money) opposing NAIS are back in the fight against lite animal ID.

The economic study says the cost of not expanding traceability in he U.S. will lead to a loss of access “to various export markets” and cost beef and pork industries an estimated $1.8 billion and $518 million, respectively, over a ten year period.

Those amounts are roughly equal to 2009 U.S. beef and pork exports to South Korea.

The five authors of the study are:  Professor Gary Brester (Montana);  Assistant Professor Dustin Pendell (Colorado), and Professor Kevin Dhuyvetter, Professor Ted Schroeder, and Assistant Professor Glynn Tensor (all Kansas).

Changing global animal ID and traceability standards are leaving the U.S. behind and could cause substantial economic damage to the U.S. livestock industries, according to the study.

Beef producing counties including Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Uruguay have already adopted mandatory animal ID system. The U.S. and India have not.

  • The one fact that USDA and the selected 5 authors have forgotten is that all the countries mentioned with some form of ID produce far more product than can be consumed in their country, but the USA has not raised enough beef to feed the nation in 21 years. The USA imported 16% of it’s beef in 2010, which unknown to the 5 authors, means export of beef in the USA is an exercise in futility. Whatever amount is exported from the USA must be replaced by imported product. Therefore ADT, or NAIS cost are of no profit to producers as an aid to enhance beef exportation/sales. Too bad these authors are not involved in the production of cattle and they would be more accurate.

  • With the enforcement of the COOL law there will be no Animal Tacking System necessary, as every piece of meat has to be traced back to and individual identified animal. Easy to do with ScoringAg. Where is the Beef? Michigan State University found it with ScoringAg.

  • Steve

    Thanks for the Ag Industry-centric viewpoint, Dan but let’s count ALL the costs…
    NAIS-1 was DOA at USDA because of the huge negative grassroots response to the heavy-handed, top-down effects on smaller scale producers — who would have had to electronically ID/tag every critter and bird on the premises — while the big factory/CAFOs (the major players in the meat export industry) would just have to assign one number to each facility…
    NAIS-2 that would restrict animal ID to interstate commerce might seem to be a win-win “lite” resolution — but if you dig a little deeper the fact is that thanks to USDA policies in recent decades small-scale slaughter facilities have been wiped off the map in numerous rural locations and farmers have to drive long-distances — many times across state lines — to get their livestock and poultry processed. Big Meat has their own facilities — so once again the regulatory load goes on the backs of small producers and the benefits go to the big boys…
    All this is part and parcel of market consolidation/control in the meat industry which has resulted in the loss of over one million beef and hog farms in the US since 1980 — and the trend continues — in 2010 another 2,300 hog producers went out of business.
    And, for another unenforced law (like COOL) already on the books whose implementation is being thwarted by Big Meat and is aided and abetted by their lobbied friends in USDA and the House Ag Committee — there’s GIPSA, the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act.
    The GIPSA rule stems from provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill which updated the Packers and Stockyard Act of 1921. It would create a fair marketplace for farmers to sell their livestock without fear of retaliation from packers and integrators and restricts the ability of meatpackers to offer different prices to providers of similar products and limits the ability of meatpackers to enter into exclusive deals with producers. The rule just finished a public comment phase with more than 60,000 public comments received and now needs to incorporate those comments into the final language but is being held up by Big Meat in Congress.
    As in other sectors, corporate control of our food system is not a pretty thing. And we’re the ones who pay and pay and pay — economically, environmentally and with our health….

  • Barbara

    This study just confirms what we’ve said about animal ID all along. It is to benefit the exporting businesses. It has nothing to do with preventing any disease, but individual livestock owners and small farms are expected to comply with rules that are of no benefit to them. In fact, it puts American livestock at greater risk of being exposed to an imported disease. Considering that I now have to vaccinate my horses against West Nile Virus, and that there are Chinese stinkbugs everywhere I look, I am certain that loosening import rules to comply with the WTO will be a detriment to American citizens. The US should show some leadership and stop kowtowing to the UN. To paraphrase your mother – if your friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump also?

  • “the same groups that raised a ruckus (and probably some money) opposing NAIS”
    Well that was a rude and unsubstantiated accusation. I’m appalled that you stoop so low to calling names when you know nothing. Instead you are now doing character unfounded assassination instead of sticking to the facts.
    Fact: I write the NoNAIS.org to protect our traditional rights to farm. I’m not making money on that. It costs me money and time. I organize against NAIS and similar inanities to protect our rights.
    Fact: Your little economic study is but one of many. Others show that NAIS and programs like it are bad and will cost us a lot of money. You can hire someone to do what ever study you want. It doesn’t make it relevant.
    The real issue is the government should not be abridging our Constitutional right to raise our own food nor should the government be getting between people’s rights to trade goods.
    Stick to the facts and don’t make innuendo you can’t support.