Since the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) has been discussed on this site by Jerry Salyer and Susan McWilliams, I want to mention that last month the program (after a $120+ million investment) was pulled by the USDA. It has been renamed, and is being re-studied and re-worked—so reports of its death are premature.
Still, while the government’s IT system and numbering program remain in place for what is now the “animal disease traceability framework,” the requirement that all producers participate–including those raising just their own meat or selling only in-state–has been dropped. This is good news for small farmers, and will not increase the danger of tainted meat reaching your grocery. (That danger exists, but it is not due to the failure to implement national cow-tagging.)
Those interested can wade through the government’s FAQ’s page here. The USDA does plan to trace animals sold across State borders, and expects to issue revised regulations next winter, to be administered by the States and not the feds. So we’ll see.