(NaturalNews) The window of opportunity to submit comments in response to the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) proposed new animal identification requirements is quickly coming to a close, and many small farmers and ranchers say there simply is not enough time to adequately review the proposal and respond to it before the November 9 deadline.
The Cornucopia Institute (CI), a non-profit advocacy group that promotes economic justice for family scale farming, has teamed up with 48 other groups representing family farmers, ranchers, and consumers, to formally petition USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to extend the comment period an additional 60 days.
"The period for public comment coincides with the fall harvest and comes during the worst drought ever recorded in some major livestock production regions," says Judith McGeary, Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and vice-chair of the USDA Secretary's Advisory Committee on Animal Health. "Our farmers and ranchers are struggling to get their crops in and save their animals, and they need more time to assess the impacts of the proposed rule."
The USDA proposal originates from its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and intends to require all US cattle that crosses state lines to be registered in federal databases for tracking purposes. Farmers and ranchers would also be required to maintain and submit copious amounts of paperwork and veterinary inspections for their herds, regardless of their size or scale.
"A coalition of cattle groups presented USDA with a reasonable plan for cattle identification, but the agency persists in proposing unworkable rules," adds Bill Bullard, CEO for R-CALF USA, a national cattle producer organization. "The least the agency can do is extend the comment period so that the cattlemen can comment on the proposal when they're not in the middle of the calf-weaning and shipping seasons."