The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has retracted a memorandum mandating premises registration under the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

The change affects producers who move livestock interstate and participate in federally regulated disease programs.

On Dec. 22, USDA removed Memorandum 575.19 issued on Sept. 22, 2008, following submission of a formal request to USDA just over a month ago by R-Calf USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America).

In its letter to USDA, R-Calf told the agency that its memo “constitutes an unlawful, final regulatory action initiated and implemented without public notice or opportunity for comment as required by the Administrative Procedures Act,” and therefore must be retracted.

“This action by USDA confirms what we’ve been saying all along – that USDA does not have the authority to implement NAIS and it is using underhanded and unlawful methods to coerce livestock producers into giving up their rights to their property,” declares Kenny Fox, chairman of R-Calf’s animal identification committee.

R-Calf is encouraging producers not to register their premises under NAIS and to request their names and property be removed from the NAIS database if they had previously registered.

As of Dec. 22, USDA estimates that 495,203 premises or 34.4% of U.S. livestock farms have registered under the NAIS program.