Diverse opinions and facts were voiced, shared and questioned at ID•INFO EXPO 2009, Aug. 25-27, Kansas City, Mo., when 27 speakers and the food industry conveyed their messages related to the current state of animal identification in the United States, obstacles, opportunities and next steps.

Sponsored by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, the EXPO included several interactive discussion sessions which allowed EXPO participants to get their questions answered in front of the assembly. “No one was here to endorse or negate NAIS (the National Animal Identification System),” stated Glenn Fischer, chairman of the ID•INFO EXPO Planning Committee. “We gathered to listen, learn, clarify concerns and opportunities, identify next steps and collaborate on furthering animal identification in the U.S.” “In the end, consensus was that a top-down approach to national animal identification isn’t the answer and neither is a bottom-up approach.

“A national animal identification plan is not a question of mandatory or voluntary. It’s a necessity,” said William Hartmann, executive director and state veterinarian, Minnesota Board of Animal Health. David Acheson, managing director of food and import safety practice at Leavitt Partners in Utah, pointed out that the Obama Administration “wants to make capital out of protecting the food supply.” Acheson noted that food safety efforts by the FDA under Obama will be stepped up, adding that a food traceability requirement is likely.

Issues related to confidentiality, liability and cost—obstacles often cited by producers—were addressed by Elizabeth Springsteen, staff attorney with the National Agricultural Law Center; Kevin Dhuyvetter, professor, agricultural economics, Kansas State University; and John Evans, SWV Consulting Inc. Avoiding convoluted legalese, Springsteen delivered the facts regarding the Freedom of Information Act, court subpoena power, exceptions to USC ξ8791and three ways liability can be imposed.

One person departing ID•INFO EXPO summarized the animal identification conference in this manner: “It stimulated a dimension of my thinking. I’m definitely thinking the solution should be industry-driven. Mandatory? Voluntary? State-led with national oversight or a federal program? I need to think those over a bit more.

See the presentations from ID•INFO EXPO 2009 online.