A USDA official reiterated Wednesday that the ball is in the livestock industry’s court with respect to one of the most critical components of a national animal-ID system.

John Clifford, chief veterinary medical officer of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, encouraged a group of livestock industry representatives to work together to form a private legal entity that can manage the animal-ID records database. Representatives from several major livestock and farm organizations attended the meeting in Kansas City.

“We need to leave our organizations at the door and get this done,” says Clifford.

The USDA would like the records to be housed in a single repository that has been chosen by the livestock industry, yet meets USDA’s requirements for access to information on a constant 24-hour, 7-day-a-week basis in the event of an animal-disease emergency. 

“It’s your livelihood at stake,” says Clifford, alluding to the need for timely traceback of animals. 

Yet, the livestock representatives left Wednesday’s meeting not sure what lies ahead. No one has stepped up to take a leadership role when it comes to selecting or forming a private legal entity to administer the database. No process has been identified.   

Clifford says the USDA will put together some timelines for the livestock groups to follow so that the proposed animal ID system stays on track, time-wise. Currently, the USDA and state departments of agriculture are working on getting livestock premises registered on a voluntary basis, but in a few years all animals and premises are to be registered on a mandatory basis.