October 27, 2006
October 27, 2006 - At their meeting last week, members of the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) Committee on Livestock Identification heard Bruce Knight, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, reiterate U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) support for a voluntary National Animal Identification System (NAIS).
Secretary Knight also emphasized USDA's four guiding principles behind the NAIS. They are (1) avoid unnecessary burden to livestock producers, (2) avoid growth in government, (3) maintain flexibility and (4) keep data in private hands.
Committee discussions centered on interim strategies to increase identification of livestock as work continues to fully implement the NAIS. Updates indicated that all three key components of the NAIS -- premises registration, animal identification and animal tracking - are being implemented. In particular, reports indicated that increased numbers of premises are being registered as part of the NAIS, with about 2,500 additional premises being signed up per week.
The Committee recommended adoption of a 'bookend' approach as an interim step in reaching a complete animal ID tracking system. 'Bookend' refers to the fact that an animal would be identified at two opposing points in its life; i.e., at its farm of origin and then either at slaughter or if it is diagnosed with a reportable animal disease. It was noted that Canada started a 'bookend' system before progressing to a more complete national animal identification system.
Other topics at the Committee meeting that received considerable discussion included confidentiality of information; incentives for participation; private versus public animal tracking; outbreak; opposition by animal-owning entities outside mainstream animal agriculture; responsibility for animal event reporting; need for infrastructure support; cooperative agreements; and impacts of small and large livestock operations on disease-control efforts.
Representing the sheep industry at this meeting were: Lyndon Irwin, Ph.D., chair of the American Sheep Industry Association's (ASI) Production, Education and Research Council; Jim Logan, DVM, chair of ASI's Health Committee; Cindy Wolf, DVM, vice chair of ASI's Health Committee; and Paul Rodgers, deputy director of policy for ASI.