Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and John Thune (R-SD) and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) today asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to hold a listening session regarding the proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS) in the state of South Dakota. The request follows an announcement by the USDA that the agency will be holding meetings across the country to discuss the proposed program with affected stakeholders.

"South Dakota family farmers, ranchers and livestock organizations have commented on the National Animal Identification System. The USDA should hear their feedback directly so that any further animal disease mitigation efforts take their comments into account," said Johnson. "I'm pleased that Secretary Vilsack is listening to producers, and our ag community should be heard by the administration as this process moves forward."

"I am pleased that Secretary Vilsack is taking an opportunity to listen to those farmers and ranchers who would be impacted by these decisions," said Thune. "As a member of the Senate Agriculture committee, I will continue work with our producers and USDA on several outstanding NAIS issues. Holding a listening session in South Dakota would give Secretary Vilsack an opportunity to hear directly from those closest to the issue."

"South Dakota's livestock industry has been successful utilizing a variety of animal ID programs to mitigate disease and are well suited to share their experience and feedback with Secretary Vilsack as he considers how best to proceed with a potential National Animal ID System," Rep. Herseth Sandlin said. "In considering locations for listening sessions across the country, I hope Secretary Vilsack closely evaluates South Dakota as our producers would provide him with valuable insight and perspective on both the benefits and challenges of a National Animal ID System."

Below is the full text of the letter to the Ag Secretary:
Secretary Vilsack:

We write on behalf of South Dakota ranchers and farmers who would appreciate an opportunity to discuss the proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS) with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is our understanding that you began extensive meetings this past week with stakeholders on the subject of NAIS, and we encourage you in this round of listening sessions to hold such a listening session in the state of South Dakota.

It is our understanding that at the Wednesday, April 15, 2009, NAIS roundtable meeting held in Washington, DC, you announced that a series of listening sessions were forthcoming to gather input on any further animal disease mitigation and tracking efforts. We applaud you for your efforts to create meaningful dialogue on this issue with those directly impacted by such a system. It is crucially important that any further animal disease mitigation efforts take into consideration and recognize common sense livestock management practices. We believe that holding a session in South Dakota to gather grassroots, farmer and rancher feedback would be invaluable in creating a dialogue with those who would be impacted by any further animal disease proposals in our home state.

We thank you in advance for your attention to this important issue.

Tim Johnson
U.S. Senate

John Thune
U.S. Senate

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Member of Congress