USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack held a roundtable discussion yesterday with livestock producers to collect perspectives and information on the National Animal Identification System. Wednesday's session begins a listening tour with the objective of gathering industry details that will help the administration fine tune a U.S. animal identification and traceability program. 

"Much work has been done over the past five years to engage producers in developing an animal identification system that they could support," Vilsack said in a statement. "However, many of the issues and concerns that producers initially raised, such as the cost, impact on small farmers, privacy, confidentiality and liability, continue to cause debate."

USDA wants program stakeholders to voice their concerns and offer potential solutions. The plan is to take listening tour to various locations across the country. More details will be announced and posted on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Web site at

APHIS will also publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting input. Producers and stakeholders will be notified when to visit to provide their suggestions and comments, or they can access the site through the APHIS NAIS Web site.

APHIS began implementing NAIS in 2004 as a voluntary animal traceability system. The objective is to enable producers and animal-health officials to respond quickly and effectively to animal disease events in the United States.