Update on Government’s Push for Premises Registration and RFID

Update on Government’s Push for Premises Registration and RFID

February 21, 2020 2 By Kailee Schamberger


Hello this is Bill Bullard with R-CALF USA,
the voice of the independent cattle producer in the United States of America. During our last segment, I explained that
we submitted a brief to the federal court that presided over our challenge to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) effort to force independent cattle producers to use
radio frequency identification (RFID) eartags and to register their premises with the government
as a condition of allowing cattle producers to exercise their privilege of shipping their
adult cattle across state lines. Our brief argued that even though the USDA
folded after we filed our lawsuit by completely withdrawing their unlawful RFID and premises
registration mandate, the case should not be over. Unfortunately, the court disagreed with us
and, instead, agreed that because USDA completely removed the RFID mandate soon after we filed
our lawsuit, there is no longer an ongoing controversy for the court to consider given
that USDA had offered written assurance that the RFID mandate was no longer agency policy,
that the agency would not implement the provisions of the mandate, and that when it decides to
proceed with a future RFID mandate, it would follow the law by allowing producers and opportunity
to provide comments. So, that means we won. But, it’s important to know that this issue
runs far deeper than simply an effort by the USDA to help RFID eartag manufacturers and
meatpackers achieve their goal of requiring the live cattle supply chain to track U.S.
cattle through electronic means. Here’s what’s at stake:
Anytime the government imposes a costly requirement upon independent U.S. businesses, it has two
immediate impacts: First, it raises production costs that may render the U.S. business noncompetitive
in the global marketplace if the same requirement is not imposed on the production of imported
products. Second, it infringes on the liberties and
freedoms that the U.S. Constitution affords U.S. citizens. Because of this second impact, the government
cannot take action that erodes the liberty and freedom of U.S. citizens unless two conditions
are met: First, Congress must pass a law that authorizes
a federal agency to impose costly requirements upon American businesses. Congress typically refrains from granting
such authorization to agencies unless it views the authorization essential to preserving
public safety, security and welfare. Second, after Congress acts, the federal agency
charged with implementing the new requirements must follow the congressionally passed Administrative
Procedures Act that requires the federal agency to provide notice to U.S. citizens of the
agency’s plan to implement new requirements and it must provide the public with sufficient
time to provide comments on the agency’s proposal. This notice and comment requirement imposed
on federal agencies is meaningful. That’s because the agencies have a legal
duty to consider all important concerns raised by the public and to address those concerns
in any final regulation that arises after the notice and comment period. The theory underpinning this process is that
agencies are held accountable by the public and if they proceed in an arbitrary or capricious
manner, the public has a right to sue the agency to rein it back in. But in our RFID case, the USDA tried to run
roughshod over American citizens. It claims Congress granted it the authority
to impose new animal identification requirements when Congress authorized the agency to protect
the United States from the spread within and introduction of foreign animal diseases. Notwithstanding our firm belief that this
is an overreach of USDA’s disease control and prevention obligations, the agency clearly
overreached when it tried to implement its mandate while completely ignoring its legal
obligations to provide citizens with the critically important notice and comment rulemaking process. So, at least for now we defended the liberty
and freedom of America’s cattle farmers and ranchers by catching the USDA in its unlawful
act. But, knowing that USDA wants to accomplish
its goal of forcing the exclusive use of RFID technology and premises registration, R-CALF
USA is circulating a petition that American cattle producers can sign. The petition calls upon state veterinarians
to protect the rights of cattle producers within their respective state by allowing
cattle producers to continue choosing among the various animal identification devices
that best fits their individual operations. The message is that the liberty and freedom
to choose which type of animal identification device to use in any future animal identification
regulation must be preserved for America’s cattle farmers and ranchers. To view and sign the petition, go to www.StopMandatoryRFID.com. Your support matters and if you’d like to
help us continue our successful representation of the interests of independent cattle producers,
please go to www.r-calfusa.com and join with us.