USDA’s comment period for the proposed national livestock identification program—or traceability rule-- came to an end on Dec. 9.

The National Pork Producers Council submitted comments on behalf of the Swine Identification Implementation Task Force. The task force, formed in December 2005, includes producers, packers, swine veterinarians and breed registries.

 NPPC has been a strong advocate for animal traceability across all species for the sake of securing the health of the national herd. NPPC’s comments illustrated that the fact that the United States does not have an official pre-harvest traceability system could have significant negative ramifications on preparation, response and continuity of operations should there be a foreign animal disease outbreak in the country.

“A valid traceability system would save millions of animals, reduce the financial burden on the food-animal industry and save the American taxpayer millions of dollars,” NPPC said in its comments.

The U.S. pork industry has had an animal identification system in place since 1987. Today, approximately 95 percent of U.S. pork producers have registered their premises within the system.

NPPC fully supports a mandatory, species-specific, pre-harvest traceability system for all livestock and poultry involved in interstate commerce regardless of the rearing method or operation size. Ensuring an ability to respond to and recover from an FAD or other animal health or food safety related issue is critical not only for maintaining the security of the domestic market but also to keep export markets open to U.S. product.

Estimates are that the United States will ship 25 percent to 27 percent of this year’s pork production overseas. Keeping those markets open is beneficial to everyone who sells market hogs within the United States.