USDA Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the department's guiding principles to develop a public/private partnership that enables the private sector to maintain animal-movement data as part of the National Animal Identification System.
"We are gratified by the growing support for an animal identification system, with more than 100,000 premises now registered," notes Johanns. "We are eager to work with industry as it develops and maintains databases that contain animal-movement information. After hearing producers' confidentiality concerns, we envision a system that allows these databases to feed a single, privately held animal-tracking repository that we can access."
USDA's four guiding principles for the NAIS database are as follows:
The system must be able to allow animal tracking from point of origin to processing within 48 hours without unnecessary burden to producers and other stakeholders.
The system's architecture must be developed without unduly increasing government's role or size.
The system must be flexible enough to utilize existing technologies and incorporate new identification technologies as they are developed.
Animal movement data should be maintained in a private system that can be readily accessed when necessary by state and federal animal-health authorities.
USDA has solicited public input on NAIS through a variety of means, including a series of listening sessions across the country and a thinking-paper published for public comment in May 2005. Public response indicates there is widespread support for a system to rapidly trace potentially exposed animals in the event of an animal-disease outbreak. Most producers who responded also favored a system that allows the animal movement data to be privately held.
USDA officials will be scheduling a stakeholder meeting this fall to clarify expectations for the private-tracking system to discuss user requirements and system specifications.
Once fully implemented, NAIS will enhance U.S. efforts to respond to intentionally or unintentionally introduced animal disease outbreaks more quickly and effectively. More information about NAIS is available at www.usda.gov/nais