On Monday this week many Sale Barn Owners found out about new Federal Tagging Requirements

On Monday this week many Sale Barn Owners found out about new Federal Tagging Requirements

It was the late, great President Ronald Reagan who quipped that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Our federal government and our state department of agriculture reminded us again this week why Reagan’s words are still relevant.

The latest example of government interference being more harmful than helpful comes in the form of new national animal identification requirements handed down by the United States Department of Agriculture. These regulations require livestock owners to obtain veterinary inspection, register, and tag certain animals that will be shipped out of state. The idea is to make it easier to trace animal ownership. But the end result is that Missouri farmers are again saddled with a burdensome, costly federal regulation.

If you remember a few years ago, the state legislature fought valiantly against the intrusions of the federal government as it tried to force states to adopt the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The messaging for NAIS was the same as it is today for the new Animal Disease Traceability Rule – that we must have these burdensome requirements in place to control the outbreak of infectious diseases. While I want to protect all Americans from a contaminated food supply, I also know such requirements do little more than make our livestock owners jump through hoops and pay fees they cannot afford.

In 2008 we stood up to the federal government on the NAIS issue. The General Assembly was able to pass SB 931 to ensure the NAIS requirements would be voluntary rather than mandatory. It was a huge victory for Missouri livestock owners and something that I was proud to support as a member of the Missouri House.

Today, we again deal with another attempt by the federal government to implement a shortsighted policy that will hurt our farmers more than it will help protect our food supply. It’s also concerning that our own state department of agriculture has been aware of these new requirements but has done very little to inform livestock owners and sale barns of the change. In fact, many sale barns were caught completely off guard by the new requirements that took effect this week.

The truth is that this will be a costly change for livestock owners as it will cost between $3 to $5 to tag each animal under the new requirements. On top of that, animals will need to be run through chutes at the sale barn to put the tags in place. It may seem like a minor inconvenience to some, but it’s an extra step that can cause a cow to lose as much as 25 pounds of weight. When you add up the total weight lost for a semi-truck load of cattle being tagged the final dollar amount lost can be as much as $3,500. It’s yet another reason this new requirement has been poorly conceived and implemented.

We need better leadership for our agriculture community on both the national and state level. We need actual farmers and livestock owners involved in making the decisions that impact family farmers in all parts of the state and the nation. Instead we have government bureaucrats  pretending to have the best interests of rural Missourians at heart. The result is an ill-conceived policy like the new animal disease traceability rule. It’s a policy I will continue to fight against because I believe it’s the wrong thing to do for Missouri’s most important industry and the many farm families who work so hard to make a living.