The national animal identification system and animal traceability are critically important issues facing producers. These topics and other issues including country of origin labeling and food safety were addressed by industry and government experts from the U.S. and Canada at the 2007 ID Info Expo held this week in Kansas City.

Scott Stuart, chairman of the board for National Institute for Animal Agriculture, sponsor of the Expo, says, “Animal identification has become perhaps the most important issue in animal agriculture today”. The Expo drew livestock producers, government officials and industry representatives from the U.S. and Canada.

“Traceability is the key component to animal disease, in order to find it quickly, control it and eradicate it” says John Clifford, APHIS deputy administrator for veterinary services. “Traceability is vital to our disease response abilities”.

“If you can’t locate (diseased) animals, what assurance can you give to other states, or to your trading partners that you can quickly locate and eradicate the diseases you find” Clifford continues. “That’s the problem, and it will continue to be a problem until this nation grasps this issue and takes it on, in order to move forward”.

The industry must be prepared for an emergency and must be able to reliably trace and quickly find infected animals. During the United Kingdom’s experience with foot-and-mouth disease in August, the U.S. received daily reports on their findings and activities. That is the same response U.S. trading partners will expect of U.S. animal agriculture because globalization of agriculture is here to stay.

We have a high degree of consumer confidence in the U.S. If that confidence is to continue at a robust level, it’s critical we have traceability. Our objective must be to develop a uniform, national ID program to support animal disease prevention programs and to assure a wholesome and safe food supply in the U.S.