For most of the past decade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
tried to get farmers and ranchers to accept the National Animal
Identification System (NAIS) without success.
was to be a high tech solution, with top down coverage of nearly every
critter on the land. But, as everybody in rural America knows, NAIS is
Still U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack has every reason to worry about tuberculosis, brucellosis,
scabies, pseudorabies, hog cholera and like animal diseases. So to
improve the traceability of U.S. livestock moving through interstate
commerce when animal diseases do strike, Vilsack Tuesday rolled out a
new, decidedly low tech tracking system.
an annual cost estimated at $14.5 million, the new animal disease
traceability scheme will rely on state and tribal governments, apply
only to animals sold across state lines, and will be flexible about
whatever the parties work out for identification–tags, tattoos, brands
or pretty much, whatever works.
frequency or bar code ID will be required and Elsie the goat who lives
her entire life on the farm will never have to be involved.
The new regulations will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday and public comments will be accepted until Nov. 9.
a media conference call, Vilsack outlined a traceability program that
appears to rest upon two states or a state and tribal government having
agreement on how animals in interstate commerce can be monitored.
said USDA’s approach this time is based on only worrying about
interstate commerce, being flexible, low-tech, and having arapid
response. He said the focus may end up being on cattle because the
sheep industry has an effective tracking system in place.
USDA’s new proposal was developed after holding eight public meetings and gaining insight from a working group.
traceability, Vilsack said animal disease investigations taking 150
days or longer are unacceptable from the public health viewpoint and
impose greater economic costs on producers than need be.
said the traceability system will not prevent disease but it will
reduce the time and number of animals caught up in an investigation.
lack to an ID system that can trace an animal to a specific farm is one
of the reasons China gives for blocking its market to U.S. beef. In an
acknowledgement that the new regulations alone would probably not open
China to U.S. beef, Vilsack said: “We have significant issues with them
Congress, which shutoff
funding for the NAIS, must financially support the new regulations if
they are to be successful. “I think there is a good case to be made
that they will have a good return on investment,” Vilsack said.
Dr. John Clifford, chief veterinary officer of the U.S., responded to controversy that has already come up over brands.
Billings, MT-based cattleman’s groups known at R-CALF USA is concerned
that “hot-iron” brands won’t be recognized border-to-border. Clifford
points out that only 14 states still use brands.
“This is a bad deal for independent U.S. cattle producers,” opined R-CALF’s Kenny Fox.
The Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2011-20281_PI.pdf.
Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send to Docket No. APHIS-2009-0091,
Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700
River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.
documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at
www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2009-0091 or in the reading
room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th
Street and Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and
4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, call 202-690-2817.