The National Animal Identification System is in its infancy but has already drawn enough fire that the U.S. Agriculture Department has scaled at least parts of it back from being mandatory to voluntary. Still, some farmers and ranchers—especially the smaller ones—are angry and suspicious, despite the program's goal to trace infected meat back to its source. They fear the cost, and they bristle at giving any more data to the government. They also insist that most disease starts on the large farms, not theirs. Supporters of the program welcome any way to assure consumers that their food is safe. Large farmers worry less about the cost and think the program could be useful for inventory control and for marketing, especially to more-particular foreign customers.
Hear more about these issues in a 12-minute interview with Michael Pakko, an economist and research officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Read his article on the topic, "Barnyard Boon or Bust? The National Animal Identification System (NAIS)," in the January issue of The Regional Economist.