If you haven’t signed up for premises identification through the National Animal Identification System, it’s time to do so. It only takes a few minutes to sign up, and it could save you lots of headaches in the future. 

“Registering is as simple as listing the farm’s address, what kinds of livestock you have and your phone number,” says Robyn Fleck, National Pork Board’s director of swine health programs. “It’s important to do this for the health and safety of America’s swine herd.”

NAIS is a national program intended to identify specific animals in the United States and record their lifetime movements. The point is to allow 48-hour traceback of movements for any diseased or exposed animal.

USDA and state agencies developed the program in cooperation with the livestock industry. It’s currently a voluntary program, but will move toward mandatory status. Participating producers will receive a premises identification number — or PIN. The system will help ensure rapid disease containment and protect all U.S. livestock, including hogs. You can get specific signup information from your state animal-health agency. There is additional information on the National Institute of Animal Agriculture Web site at www.niaa.org. The National Pork Producers Council also has a spot on its Web site to make premises sign up quick and easy. (Go to www.nppc.org.)

The pork industry has had a mandatory interstate identification program since 1988 as part of the pseudorabies eradication program. The Pork Industry Identification Working Group, formed under USDA’s direction, and representing producers, livestock market owners and packers would like to see all premises registered by 2007.

“In case of foreign animal disease introduction, either unintentionally or intentionally, through agro-terrorism, being able to respond rapidly can be the difference between disease containment and the devastation of an entire industry,” Fleck says.

“Premises ID numbers will be kept at the state level and won’t be published. Also, some states like South Dakota and North Carolina are passing laws to protect this information further,” she notes.

There are lots of NAIS details that still need to be worked out, but the ability, and ease of signing up your premises is not one of them.