All signs point to the fact that a National Animal Identification System will be up and running soon, to protect the U.S. livestock herd from disease outbreaks. More important to that is the security it could offer in terms of maintaining market share.

Still, even after year's of extensive discussion not all livestock sectors are supporting the idea of national ID, and there's a sense that this could all bog down in government and industry politics. Certainly the issue of money is one concern.

The National Pork Producers Council is reaching out to pork producers to contact their congressional members to support funding designated for the national animal ID program in the Fiscal Year 2005 Agriculture Appropriations process, which is now underway.

NPPC’s top priority for next year is to adequately fund the initial stages of a National Animal Identification System. The bovine spongiform encephalopathy case and the ongoing challenges with Avian Influenza have highlighted the importance of accelerating the development and implementation of NAIS.

The pork industry has had a mandatory identification system in place for swine in interstate commerce since 1988. While it is an effective system, enhancements are needed to ensure 48-hour traceback to farm for animal-health reasons. "An identification system that covers all livestock species is needed to protect the U.S. swine herd in a number of areas, including food safety and security, animal health management and international trade," notes Keith Barry, NPPC president.

NPPC is supporting an allocation of $53 million to begin moving the NAIS forward. "We believe that this money should be used for: (1) a national premises identification system in all 50 states; (2) a national data repository; and (3) species-specific animal identification validation projects," says Barry.

USDA recently received $18.8 million in Comodity Credit Corporation emergency funding for Fiscal Year 2004.

NPPC is asking pork producers to contact their congressional members by telephone or by letter– and urge them to appropriate $53 million to fund a national animal identification system.

NPPC's Legislative Action Center has made this task fast and simple. To find the phone number for your Member of Congress, go to http://capwiz.com/nppc/dbq/officials/. Type your Zip Code in the space provided. After you hit "Go," click on the picture of the lawmaker you wish to contact, or to send them a brief note click on this link http://capwiz.com/nppc/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=5214636.