April 17, 2009
American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) President Glen Fisher (Texas) delivered remarks on Wednesday during a roundtable discussion on animal identification held by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. This event is the first in a series of listening sessions aimed at gathering feedback and input that will assist the secretary in making decisions about the future direction of animal identification and traceability.
During his remarks, Fisher reiterated the ASI policy that supports an animal identification system if several serious provisions are met. Fisher also described the system the sheep industry has in place today.
"When the National Scrapie Eradication Program was initiated in 2001, a mandatory, functional and practical identification system was implemented, and today we have over 90 percent of the sheep premises recorded in the national scrapie database. The implementation of a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) for livestock should not be duplicative of the program sheep producers follow within the scrapie program."
"Because producers bear the cost of production loss each time an animal is penned, restrained and handled, the cost of identification, database services, supplies and devices should be bore by the public sector," continued Fisher. "Implementation of this system must not economically burden any sector of the U.S. sheep industry."
Fisher also noted that NAIS should accommodate all the various production systems in the United States, including group movement of owned animals for management purposes, as well as movement through feeder and slaughter channels. The single identification of groups is the most effective method for achieving traceability in the feeder/slaughter channels.
In conclusion, Fisher emphasized that even with the importance of animal identification, it is of no value if a lamb is dragged from its mother and killed by coyotes. The sheep industry encourages the support of the department for the federal share of predator management.
A copy of the formal statement submitted by Fisher is available for review at www.sheepusa.org