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Goats and Votes

Click here for an update on NAIS

Many goat owners think of themselves as just that, owners or breeders. More and more people are recognizing themselves as farmers too, as they use their goats and milk to make a little money for the family. But regardless of operating scale, those who own goats are included in the Dept. of Agriculture's scope of responsibility. That means in order to keep our goats, we need to be aware of the political world that surrounds agriculture in America.

We will, from time to time, just wax/rant about issues that we feel are important, but our goal here is to inform, not browbeat. People need to know what rules face them as they start to show, or sell, or just want to transport their animals across state lines. We'll post state by state round ups about new laws, but please, help us. If you know of a bill that's being proposed, or a policy/law that will affect keeping goats, please share it with us. We will post the entire announcement here, and summarize it in the next Ruminations Issue.

Here's what's been happening lately. Click on the link for full explanation.

NAIS continues to raise its ugly head around the country, but many states are fighting it. Here is a summary of pending legislation across the US:

AZ had allowed the State to make NAIS mandatory, but as of May 1, Governor Napolitano signed SB1428, which banned NAIS from being mandatory. Though more work is needed to protect Arizona small farmers, it's a good start.

CO is currently requiring children to register with NAIS in order to compete in the state fair. HB1129 would reverse that ruling. It has passed the CO House and was headed for Senate Ag Committee. Instead it was sent to the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. Contact your legislators and ask that it be transferred to the correct committee. UPDATE: 3/10/08 - 1129 Died in the Senate Committee

IL Legislators have introduced a Bill, HB5776, which would stop the mandatory use of Premises Identification when exhibiting animals in any livestock exhibition in the state, unless they receive prior approval from the governing board of health of the fair site. UPDATE: 3/10/08 A stronger, amended version 5776 was voted on the House, and passed unanimously! It is now up for its second reading and will be voted on, hopefully, this week. Check out for more information and action tips.

KY - House Bill 495 was approved in the House with a vote of 88-6! This bill would limit NAIS to voluntary only, excluding coercive actions, unless the Federal Government finally makes mandatory nationwide. The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources for discussion and vote. You can learn more about this bill at

MA has two bills pending discussion in the Joint Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture and the Environment. HB 757 stops the Commonwealth from accepting Federal funds, stops the MDAR from uploading information to the USDA without citizen's knowledge, and requires them to remove information that was not voluntarily uploaded. SB475 does all of the above, but also precludes MDAR from using existing programs, and makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of non-compliance with NAIS. These bills have been in committee for some time. Contact your legislators and tell them to protect small farms in MA and you want to see these bills passed.

MO has held a hearing on SB931, and the committee substituted its own version. Though the exact text of the bill is not known, it has been published that the bill stops the State from mandating NAIS without approval of the legislature, provides for the removal of an individual from the database if they so choose, and prohibits any organization that receives any state funds to discriminate on the basis of NAIS compliance. The Senate voted on the bill and it is now on its way to the House, though the exact committee hasn't been announced. More information is available at

NE has passed LB632, which was signed by the Governor. This bill bans a mandatory NAIS in the state and the Ag Dept. must remove any farmer's name from any state, local or federal database, if the request is made in writing. They must also submit proof in writing that the name has been removed.

SD-HB1305 would prohibit South Dakota from participating in NAIS. It was recently proposed and has been sent to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee for discussion. A hearing is expected soon.

has two bills carried over from last year, but two new bills have been proposed that would limit NAIS and support small farmers. HB3668/SB3903 and HB3660/SB3438 would block the State from requiring participation in NAIS before they can be considered for any grant or subsidy programs. HB3662/SB3437 would extend the sales tax exemption to farmers selling $50 or more product a year, instead of the previous $1000. UPDATE: Both of these bills are languishing in committee. Contact your legislator to tell them to vote to stop NAIS in TN. Learn more at

has had a bill filed, HB1473, that would have prohibited NAIS, but it has been withdrawn, rather than be amended to such a degree as to dilute it. HB1525, though not directly related to NAIS, addresses a parallel issue, the Scrapie program. This bill would require Premises ID numbers for all sheep and goat farms, which will then be rolled into NAIS according the USDA's published plans. Current attempts are aimed at limiting the scope of the State to only "infected and source flocks, and high risk animals." The exact outcome of this issue has yet to be determined.
For more information about these developments, visit

- HB 1151 has been reintroduced. This bill would authorize the formation of an Advisory Council to study NAIS in Washington State. The bill has been placed in "X" file, with little time yet to be heard this year. Visit Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance's website to see what happens next.

The Farm Bill
has yet to be signed, which is both a good and a bad thing. The Senate Bill did include language which recognized NAIS, in particular in regards to Freedom of Information Act inquiries. The House Bill did not include any such language, nor recognize NAIS at all. A conference committee will iron out the differences and a final bill will be presented to the President. However, it is not known whether he will sign it or not, as he disagrees with many of the items included in it. Interestingly enough, NAIS is not something he has mentioned. It may be that the Farm Bill will not be signed until the next President's term.

The USDA Business Plan has been published. You can read it at
If you'd like a hard copy of this USDA report, feel free to contact and we will print one and send it to you, so you won't have to contact the USDA. This document states the USDA's intention to utilize registries to require NAIS compliance for registration. Though none of the miniature dairy goat registries have chosen to be listed as opposed to this plan, none have agreed to state they would comply either. If you have an opinion, contact your registry of choice and your district representatives. The Plan also includes horses as Tier 1 Target species for NAIS compliance, though many horse groups have stated that NAIS would not include equines. The Plan also continues to ignore lower tech, lower cost approaches, such as tattooing and branding, as possible identification methods.

The USDA is still taking comments on the Business Plan and on User Guide. You can do so by emailing or sending a letter to NAIS Program Staff, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 200, Riverdale, MD 20737 . Make sure you send a copy of your comments to your Federal and State Elected Officials, so that they understand your concerns fully.

This is an exciting time in the fight against NAIS, as two states have now passed laws banning mandatory participation. Recently the President requested an additional $24 million to restore some of the money already cut from the Appropriations for this program. No result has yet come about from this request, but the USDA is far behind its projections, and feeling the pinch. Our voices are being heard, so keep up the networking and being citizen/farmers.
































Now is the time to voice your opinion on the upcoming Farm Bill. These bills come around every 5 years, and they contain the direction for the USDA during that time. Subsidies, NAIS, Scrapie, School Nutrition and other issues are detailed in this document.
Voice your opinion to your elected officials, or contact the USDA or the Agricultural Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives.