National animal identification system inches forward

WASHINGTON, DC, May 6, 2005 (ENS): Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns is providing more time for the development of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), needed to locate animals that may have mad cow disease.

Thursday he released a "thinking paper and timeline" on the system and called on agriculture producers and industry partners to provide feedback. Johanns proposes requiring stakeholders to identify premises and animals according to NAIS standards by January 2008. Requiring full recording of defined animal movements is proposed by January 2009.

Administered by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the NAIS is a cooperative state-federal-industry program being created to monitor animal movements from birth to death for the purpose of disease tracking.

Johanns said it will be established "over time" through the integration of three key components: premises identification, animal identification and animal tracking.

Need for this system was demonstrated by the discovery in December 2003 of a Washington state cow with mad cow disease. The identification system is viewed as a necessary component of U.S. efforts tocontrol the spread of the fatal brain wasting disease that has crippled the U.S. cattle industry.

"The documents we're releasing today offer a draft plan to move the public discussion forward on this important initiative," said Johanns on Thursday. "We created these documents with guidance from the NAIS advisory committee and with a great deal of input from producers. We're proposing answers to some of the key questions about how we envision this system moving forward.

"Now, I'm eager to hear from farmers and ranchers so we can develop a final plan."

Stakeholders have questioned funding for the system, confidentiality of data in the system and flexibility of the system, among other things.

Eventually, the NAIS will allow animal health officials to identify all animals and premises that have had contact with a foreign or domestic animal disease of concern within 48 hours of an initial presumptive-positive diagnosis. As an information system that provides for rapid tracing of infected and exposed animals during an outbreak situation, the NAIS will help limit the scope of such outbreaks and ensure that they are contained as quickly as possible.

The NAIS is designed to encompass the tracking of all animal species that could directly or indirectly impact the animal health status of our nation's food animal system. Currently, species working groups have been established for beef and dairy cattle, bison, camelids, cervids, equine, goats, poultry, sheep and swine.

APHIS received approximately $33 million for NAIS implementation in fiscal year 2005 through the Consolidated Appropriations Act. USDA also transferred $18.8 million from its Commodity Credit Corporation to APHIS in FY 2004 to support the program.

Both documents are available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's NAIS Web site at http://www.usda.gov/nais and will be published in the Federal Register.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before June 6, 2005. Send an original and three copies of postal or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. 050-15-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Online, a link to the NAIS docket and comment form will be available on the NAIS home page at http://www.usda.gov/nais.

Once USDA receives feedback on the documents, it will follow the normal rulemaking process before any aspects of the NAIS become mandatory. The public will have the opportunity to submit additional comments on any proposed regulations.

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2005/2005-05-06-09.asp#anchor4


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