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R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

Group Wins Major Animal ID Dispute;

USDA Cancels Mandatory Premises Registration Directive


, Mont. — Just over a month after R-CALF USA sent a formal letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Veterinary Services (APHIS-VS) demanding that the agency retract Memorandum No. 575.19 issued on Sept. 22, 2008, APHIS-VS officially canceled that particular memo on Dec. 22, 2008.

Memorandum 575.19 mandated premises registration under the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) for producers engaged in interstate commerce and who participate in any one of the dozen or more federally regulated disease programs.

R-CALF USA told the agency in its Nov. 10, 2008, letter that the memo “constitutes an unlawful, final regulatory action initiated and implemented without public notice or opportunity for comment, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act,” and must be retracted.

“We caught USDA in the unlawful act of trying to convert what was promised to be a completely voluntary animal identification system into a mandatory NAIS, and the agency backed down,” said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group’s animal health committee. “This goes to show how an organized group of cattle producers can effectively defend their rights if they stand and fight together.”

The cancellation memorandum issued by APHIS-VS on Dec. 22, 2008, states, “VS Memorandum No. 575.19 dated September 22, 2008, is hereby canceled.”

“This action by USDA confirms what we’ve been saying all along — that USDA does not have the authority to implement NAIS and it is using underhanded and unlawful methods to coerce independent cattle producers into giving up their rights to their property,” said Kenny Fox, who chairs the group’s animal identification committee.

“R-CALF USA encourages producers to not register their premises under the NAIS and to immediately request that their names and property be removed from the NAIS database if they had previously registered under USDA’s coercive actions,” Fox urged.

The new APHIS-VS memo further states that APHIS-VS “has an established procedure for producers who request their premises record be removed from the NAIS premises databases.”

R-CALF USA advocates that USDA should use and improve existing disease traceback methods including state-sanctioned brand programs that do not require individual producers to register their property under a national premises registration program in order to improve USDA’s disease traceback capabilities.

“There is no need to violate producers’ private property rights to accomplish this objective, and R-CALF will continue to work with Congress and USDA to improve our existing systems, but we will not tolerate the type of government intrusion on our industry that USDA envisioned with NAIS,” Fox concluded.


Note: To view/download R-CALF USA’s letter or the new APHIS-VS memorandum, please visit the “Animal Identification” link at or contact R-CALF USA Communications Coordinator Shae Dodson to request copies.


R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located acrss 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. For more information, visit or, call  406-252-2516 .