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The Liberty Ark Coalition says the USDA Provides an 'OPT OUT' Procedure for NAIS.

HOLLOW ROCK, Tenn., Feb. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Calvin and Carol Whittaker, second-generation Idaho ranchers, completed the form required to renew their cattle brand with the state - as they had done every few years, for more than a quarter-century. This time, however, they received a notice in the mail that said they had registered their premises in the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

Carol was furious. She has actively opposed the NAIS since it was announced in 2005. She was told by the state Department of Agriculture that once a premises has been registered in the NAIS, there is no way that it can be removed. John Chatburn, Deputy Administrator for Idaho's Division of Animal Identification, confirmed this information to a representative of the Liberty Ark Coalition (http://libertyark.net/), a national coalition formed to oppose the NAIS.

The Liberty Ark Coalition asked the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to explain the procedure for removing a premises registration from the NAIS, or to provide a citation to the law and regulation that authorized the USDA to collect and retain this information from individuals without their knowledge.

After four days of consideration, Ben Kaczmarski, a spokesman for APHIS, said that since the NAIS is now a voluntary program, the USDA had decided to provide an "OPT OUT" procedure for people who want to withdraw from the NAIS.

These people should file a written request to be removed from the NAIS with their state NAIS coordinator, who can be located here: (http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/contact_us/directories.shtml). The state coordinator will validate the request, and forward it to the USDA. The USDA will then, presumably, remove the premises from the database.

This change of policy by the USDA was met with enthusiasm, and skepticism, by ranchers and farmers across the country. Opponents of the NAIS expect the USDA to explore new ways to make the program mandatory, by either funding mandatory state-level programs, or by limiting services to ranchers and farmers who are not enrolled in the program. The Liberty Ark Coalition is carefully monitoring the USDA's implementation of the new "OPT OUT" policy.

CONTACT: Karin Bergener, +1-330-298-0065, or bergener@config.com, or Judith McGeary, +1-512-243-9404, or judith@farmandranchfreedom.org, both of Liberty Ark Coalition

Web site: http://www.freedom.org/ http://www.libertyark.net/ http://www.animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/contact_us/directories.shtml
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Date:Feb 8, 2007
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