National Pork Producers Council Vice President Joy Philippi applaudes USDA Secretary Ann Veneman’s announcement to move forward on a national animal-identification system.

“Last December, the Department said it would accelerate the process of instituting a national animal-identification system and this action shows it recognized the need to move forward,” says Philippi, a pork producer from Bruning, Neb. “An identification system is needed to maintain and strengthen the health and biosecurity of the U.S. livestock herd by providing timely and effective tracing in case of a disease event.”

As chair of NPPC’s Animal Health and Food Security Committee, Phillipi believes it’s a priority for the United States to be prepared to respond to a potential foreign-animal-disease outbreak. “Pork producers believe the most important step in implementing a national animal-identification system is establishing a national animal-premises-identification system, a key underpinning of the U.S. Animal Identification Plan,” she notes. The pork industry considers a premises-identification system a crucial part of protecting the nation’s food and agriculture infrastructure.

According to USDA's recent announcement, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will spearhead the development and implementation of the national animal-identification system.

“Pork producers have a high degree of confidence in USDA Undersecretary Bill Hawks, and his APHIS leadership team’s ability to develop a system that will be affordable, accurate and sustainable," says Phillipi. “We look forward to moving forward on full implementation of the USAIP that the pork industry has worked on for the last two and a half years.”

The $18.8 million that USDA has obtained to implement the animal-identification system is a good start, Phillipi notes. However, she points out that NPPC is working with other livestock groups to seek $73 million from Congress in the Fiscal Year 2005 agriculture appropriations bill.

National Pork Producers Council.