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Johanns pressesUSDA to expand NAIS listening session list

Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns wants the USDA to add Omaha to the national animal ID listening tour.

When USDA announced the locations of its animal ID listening sessions, the large cattle and hog producing states of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa were noticeably absent. The nearest location for most Midwestern producers was Greeley, Colorado.

Johanns says it makes no sense to ignore the Midwest when seeking advice from the nation’s livestock producers. He says Midwestern producers are impacted by the animal ID program as much as anyone, and urges Ag Secretary Vilsack to add Omaha in order to, in Johanns words, “get the best, mostinformed perspective possible.”

For his part, in an interview with Brownfield this week, Vilsack seemed surprised to be asked about site selections for the NAIS listening sessions.

"I'm not quite sure of what you mean by that,because [Monday] we were in Colorado and I will tell you we went by quite a bit of livestock on our way to and from that meeting," Vilsack told Brownfield Tuesday when asked why some of the sessions are planned for outside livestock production areas.

A listening session had been held the prior day in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Others are scheduled in Pennsylvania, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Washington State, and Connecticut.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa says he would be surprised if most of the meetings are heldoutside of cattle country, however, "I would think as loud of a voice that cattlemen have here in Washington, D.C. exactly where the – where the hearings are held are probably immaterial."

Grassley says some have suggested the NAIS listening sessions are goingto be "a dog and pony show", but he doubts that, "I don't think the Secretary Vilsack would be connected with any such operation. He's intellectually honest and he's going to use it as information gathering."  Grassley says he's opposed tomandatory NAIS "at this time."

Listen for Brownfield's coverage of USDA's Listening Session in Austin, Texas, next week. 

Those unable to attend are encouraged to submit their comments and potential solutionsonline.  Click on the NAIS link below.  

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