DC, April 28, 2004 (ENS): Agriculture Secretary
Ann Veneman Tuesday announced the framework for a National
Animal Identification System. The system is designed
to identify any agricultural premise exposed to a foreign
animal disease so that it can be more quickly contained
The system has been in the works for at least 18 months,
but development was hurried in the wake of the discovery
of a Washington dairy cow infected with mad cow disease
last December. Some 57 countries have banned imports
of U.S. beef, devastating the industry.
Veneman announced that $18.8 million would be transferred
from the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to
provide initial funding for the program during the current
Veneman said that the CCC funding is earmarked for
the initial infrastructure development and implementation
of the national system, but both private and public
support will be required to make it fully operational.
The administration’s proposed FY 2005 budget includes
another $33 million for the identification system.
“While many livestock species in the United States
can be identified through a variety of systems, a verifiable
system of national animal identification will enhance
our efforts to respond to intentionally or unintentionally
introduced animal disease outbreaks more quickly and
effectively,” Veneman said.
System implementation will be conducted in three main
phases. Under Phase I, the USDA would evaluate current
federally funded animal identification systems and determine
which system or systems should be used, further the
dialogue with producers and other stakeholders on operations,
identify staffing needs, and develop any regulatory
and legislative proposals needed for implementing the
The first step in the process is to select an interim
data repository to handle incoming national premises
data. The USDA has commissioned an independent analysis
of repositories that are currently part of various USDA
funded animal identification projects around the country.
Once the best system is identified, the USDA will enter
into cooperative agreements with states, Indian tribes
and other government entities to assist them in adapting
their existing systems to the new system.
Phase II would involve the implementation of the selected
animal identification system at regional levels for
one or more selected species, continuation of the communication
and education effort, addressing regulatory needs and
working with Congress on any needed legislation.
In Phase III, the selected animal identification system
or systems would be scaled up to the national level,
USDA is committed to develop a program that is technology
neutral, so as to enable producers, to the extent possible,
the flexibility to use current and effective systems
and technologies, as well as adopt new technologies
as they are developed.
Veneman said, “This framework is the result of
concerted efforts to expedite the implementation of
a system that meets our goals and enables farmers and
ranchers to adapt existing identification programs and
to use all existing forms of effective technologies.”