In the most recent development surrounding the  National Animal Identification System, USDA and the National FFA Organization have signed an agreement to work cooperatively to promote participation. NAIS is designed for 48-hour trace back of animals in a health emergency. Nearly 400,000 farms and farming operations are now registered with voluntary NAIS system. FFA will work with its 495,046 student members and alumni from each of the 50 states. USDA hopes to register the remaining 1 million farming operations.

The National Pork Producers Council was the first group to sign an agreement with USDA to help with the NAIS effort. NPPC and National Pork Board are implementing a mandatory swine identification system, urging pork producers to register their premises by year’s end. So far, about 58 percent of premises have been registered.

Meanwhile, livestock producers in general are responding, USDA Undersecretary Bruce Knight told pork producers as he attended World Pork Expo last week.

"This is one of the tougher issues in animal agriculture," Knight said. "But we are making good progress." He noted that the 400,000 registered farms are a little more than one-fourth of U.S. livestock and poultry farms.

"It doesn't cost anything, it's confidential, it’s simple to do and, most importantly, it's the right thing to do," Knight said. Iowa now leads the country with 10,000 registered premises. North Carolina and Texas follow.

Due to opposition from some livestock producers about registering with the government,  USDA Secretary Mike Johanns made participation voluntary registration — in an effort to get the program rolling.

A rapid disease response will limit the impact of a disease outbreak on a producer's operation, stop the spread, and minimize market impact for the U.S. livestock industry, Knight said.

He added, if the voluntary program is a success, there will be no need for a mandatory approach.