USDA's listening sessions on the National Animal Identification System are well underway. Last week at the Austin, Texas, event, David Kempen, a pork producer from Poteet, Texas, told the group that the U.S. pork industry strongly supports a mandatory approach to a national animal identification program. 

At the session, Kempen represented NPPC and the Texas Pork Producers Association. He told USDA officials, “Until animal identification is made mandatory and all premises are registered, it will never have the intended effects of improving the animal health infrastructure; aiding in the control and eradication of highly contagious foreign and domestic animal diseases; and ultimately, protecting the U.S. livestock industry, its producers, processors and hundreds of related businesses and more than a half million mostly rural jobs for Americans.” Kempen also addressed specific concerns about USDA’s NAIS, some of which have been raised by the program's critics:

  • NAIS' cost would be minimal and would far outweigh the cost of not having the ability to quickly identify, control and eradicate an animal disease.
  • NAIS' infrastructure and operating costs should be funded through federal appropriations.
  • With regard to keeping animal ID information private, there would be no data required that is not already available through a telephone directory, farm records required by USDA’s Farm Services Agency or state and local permits.
  • There is no increased liability from NAIS participation.
  • More funds need to be allocated to states to register livestock premises.
  • The expectation of recording and reporting all animal movements is too rigorous, too expensive and not necessary to achieve NAIS' objectives.

The U.S. pork industry has had a swine ID system in place since 1988, and it helped eradicate pseudorabies from the commercial herd. The program has since been enhanced and made it consistent with NAIS by registering swine premises and asking pork packers to require premises registration as a condition of sale. NPPC and the National Pork Board have registered more than 54,000, or 80 percent, of the estimated 67,300 hog farms to the swine ID program. Premises registration data includes the physical location of a farm, a contact telephone number and other publicly available information.

Source: NPPC