If rural America kicks the lite version of animal identification (ID) to the curb just as it did the National Animal Identification System (NAIS),  an economic study says export markets for U.S. beef and pork will be much smaller.

Funded by the U.S. Meat Export Federation and authored by five professors from three major state agricultural universities,  the study makes it clear that going without a national animal ID system is going to be costly for the U.S.

“The international marketplace for red meat is rapidly changing with animal identification (ID) and meat traceability systems becoming widely adopted in many key U.S. meat export destinations,” say the researchers from Colorado, Kansas, and Montana state universities.

“The United States lags behind many countries in adopting livestock and meat traceability systems, ” they continue. “As major meat importing and exporting counties adopt animal and meat tracking systems, the United States is becoming less competitive and risk losing market access.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently seeking public comment on its second attempt at animal ID.   It wants to know what people think about a sort of “lite” version of the abandoned NAIS.

Unlike NAIS, which was tech-heavy, pretty much top-down, and applied to every thing that moved on the farm without the benefit of motor, the new version only applies to animals moved interstate, will be run by state and tribal governments, will be low-tech, and implemented only through transparent federal regulation using full rule-making.

Comments submitted to date, however, are decidedly tilted against even the lite version of animal ID.  And, some of the same groups that raised a ruckus (and probably some money) opposing NAIS are back in the fight against lite animal ID.

The economic study says the cost of not expanding traceability in he U.S. will lead to a loss of access “to various export markets” and cost beef and pork industries an estimated $1.8 billion and $518 million, respectively, over a ten year period.

Those amounts are roughly equal to 2009 U.S. beef and pork exports to South Korea.

The five authors of the study are:  Professor Gary Brester (Montana);  Assistant Professor Dustin Pendell (Colorado), and Professor Kevin Dhuyvetter, Professor Ted Schroeder, and Assistant Professor Glynn Tensor (all Kansas).

Changing global animal ID and traceability standards are leaving the U.S. behind and could cause substantial economic damage to the U.S. livestock industries, according to the study.

Beef producing counties including Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Uruguay have already adopted mandatory animal ID system. The U.S. and India have not.