There are plenty of questions swirling round USDA's national animal identification system. Now to assist further, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has launched a new Web site, available at http://www.usda.gov/nais. It's designed to be a one-stop resource for stakeholders looking for information about NAIS.

"We hope our stakeholders will visit the site frequently to find out the latest news about NAIS from a national perspective," says W. Ron DeHaven, APHIS administrator. "It will be updated regularly as new information becomes available."

As well as providing national news, the site will offer contact information for state and tribal animal-health authorities. States and tribes are responsible for providing each premises under their purview with a nationally unique identification number– the starting point of the NAIS. All states should be able to assign nationally unique premises identification numbers to locations where animals are managed or held by mid-2005.

APHIS officials plan to add to the new Web site resources targeted to specific species and industry-segment groups. Currently, NAIS working groups comprised of industry and government representatives have been established for cattle and bison, sheep, swine, poultry, horses, llamas and alpacas, deer and elk, and livestock markets and processors.

In implementing NAIS, USDA's goal is to provide animal-health officials the ability to identify all animals and premises that have had contact with a foreign- or domestic-animal disease of concern within 48 hours after discovery. As an information system providing rapid tracing of infected and exposed animals, NAIS will help limit outbreaks by ensuring that they are contained and eradicated as soon as possible.

With recent passage of the government's Fiscal Year 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act, APHIS will receive about $33 million to implement NAIS. USDA also transferred $18.8 million from its Commodity Credit Corporation to APHIS during Fiscal Year 2004 to support NAIS.

Source: USDA/ APHIS