Debating NAIS

Published 17 March 2008

Is the USDA’s Nationwide Automatic Identification System (NAIS) an essential tool for fighting animal disease and agroterrorism — or is it a threat to civil liberties and a heavy, unnecessary burden on small farmers and pet owners? The debate continues

The Nationwide Automatic Identification System (NAIS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ambitious scheme to tag all commercial and most household animals in the United States, has been controversial from the beginning (see HSDW story). A few weeks ago, Equinenetwork posted some information about NAIS, especially is it relates to horse owners. The site, which caters to horse breeders and owners, was hoping to cut through the fog of misinformation and just get to the facts. What happened was quite a bit more, with many of the comments sent in by readers expressing fear about the impact of NAIS and all the things that might come with it. CattleNetwork, which addresses issues important to cattle owners and ranchers, picked up where Wquinenetwork left off, and interviewed three people who follow NAIS: Karin Bergener and Judith McGreary, horse-owners and members of, an organization which is decidedly anti-NAIS, and Dr. Jim Morehead of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, who takes a more balanced view.

The three individuals Cattlenetwork interviewed bring a lot of experience to the question.’s Karin Bergener, M.S., J.D., PMP, is an attorney and business person from Northeast Ohio. She has worked as a therapist, mediator, arbitrator, lawyer, and now information technology contract manager. She raises chickens and ducks and, an important qualifier for this story, she owns a horse. Judith McGreary is also an attorney who lives in Austin, Texas. She has a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University and a J.D. with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin. McGreary began her legal career by clerking for the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Since then, her practice has focused on environmental law, commercial litigation, and appeals. She and her husband also run a small organic farm, with horses, cow, sheep, and poultry, based on the principles of holistic resource management. Dr. Jim Morehead is with the American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, the AAEP reaches more than five million horse owners through its nearly 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.

If you are interested in where NAIS is going, you should read the conversation withthese three informed observers.