Who's going to pay?  How much is it going to cost me?  Those are common questions by producers and other stakeholders in the National Animal Identification System that is being implemented by USDA and state animal health agencies.  

According to an National Institute for Animal Agriculture survey, 20.5 percent of respondents said funding is the their biggest concern. The next, as cited by 16.7 percent of respondents, is producer participation. Data confidentiality followed, with 15.2 percent of the respondents; data collection and housing totaled 10.6 percent.

Another aspect that has been a contentious issue for many is whether the program will be voluntary or mandatory.  However, only 4.6 percent of respondents listed this as their biggest concern.

"The implementation of NAIS is an important issue for multiple sectors of animal agriculture," says Rick Sibbel, NIAA chairman of the board.  "NIAA continues to provide an important role regarding industry input.  This survey gives us a better pulse on our membership's sentiments, allowing NIAA to address ID issues across the country, and continue building consensus."

When asked specifically about support for a voluntary or a mandatory program, only 10 percent of respondents said they support a voluntary program.  In contrast, 79 percent of respondents feel the program should either be mandatory now or upon a set date in the future.

Other findings include:

  • Consensus on who holds the database has not been achieved: 27.3 percent of respondents support a centralized database operated by USDA; 13.6 percent support a centralized, private database; 28 percent support a decentralized database system operated by state animal-health agencies; and 15.9 percent support a decentralized, private database system.
  • More than three-fourths of respondents feel that additional federal dollars are needed for Fiscal Year 2005 than USDA's requested $33.
  • Forty-three percent of respondents do not feel that necessary information and education is being delivered to stakeholders in a timely fashion to help further NAIS.
  • Three-fourths of respondents feel somewhat or very prepared to participate in NAIS; only six percent feel unprepared.
  • Forty-seven percent agree that concerns have been heard and are being or will be addressed.  Twenty-five percent disagree.
  • More than half of respondents feel progress is moving at an average rate or better, while one-third of respondents feel the rate of progress is below average or poor.

The 25-question opinion survey was mailed electronically to 502 individuals nationally, with NIAA members comprising the pool.  One hundred thirty-two (132) responses were received for a 26.3 percent response rate.  The survey was conducted Oct. 14-19.  You can view complete survey results at www.animalagriculture.org/survey/NAIS.htm.