The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee accepted an amendment co-sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), to reduce the budget for USDA's National Animal Identification System from $14.67 million to $7.3 million. The amendment also limits use of the funds only to pay for rule-making activities.

The NAIS program has divided many sectors of animal agriculture. The National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council both support the implementation of NAIS as a way to protect the health of the U.S. farm-animal population. Some in the beef industry have vehemently criticized the program. USDA recently held a series of NAIS listening sessions across the country at which the agency met with several groups opposing the ID program. Those same groups now praised the Senate's action.

"Thank you, Senators Tester and Enzi, for taking the lead against this expensive, intrusive, and unworkable program,” says Dan Teigen, a rancher with the Western Organization of Resource Councils. “The conference committee should zero out all funding for the animal identification program. You don’t just want to slow down a runaway train. You want to stop it.”

R-CALF USA President Max Thornsberry, meanwhile says “NAIS epitomizes what government should not do: it should not impose costly and highly intrusive regulatory burdens on private industry and private citizens without first considering alternatives, without first establishing a critical public need, and without first determining the effect that a significant government mandate would have on the culture and economy of the U.S. livestock industry,” said Thornsberry. “We view the Tester/Enzi amendment as an essential step towards requiring USDA to begin cooperating with U.S. livestock producers to prevent the introduction and spread of animal diseases and pests in livestock without violating the rights and privileges of the individual owners and caretakers of those livestock.”