According to USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the agency will recognize additional numbering systems for the National Aminal Identification System.

Many producers now use separate identification numbers or methods for official animal-health programs, interstate commerce purposes and industry programs such as breed registries. Various industry organizations and USDA support the use of a standardized numbering system that would allow one number to be used for all of these purposes. An animal or group of animals would be identified with the same official number under multiple programs, instead of being identified with a different number under each program. The data associated with each program could still be maintained separately, say APHIS officials.

The agency is amending the regulations to officially recognize a 15-character animal identification number, 13-character group/lot identification number and 7-character premises identification number. The new animal numbering system will allow producers to transition into a "one number-one animal" system if they wish to do so.

This interim rule does not change the requirements defining which animals must be identified, nor does it require that producers use the new numbering systems, notes APHIS officials. The NAIS program remains a voluntary effort. "This rule merely ensures that the new numbering systems are recognized as official, allowing those who want to use such systems to do so," notes an APHIS statement.

APHIS also is amending the regulations to prohibit the removal of identification devices, including those recognized as official on livestock imported from other countries.

This interim rule was published in the Nov. 8 Federal Register and became effective upon publication.  APHIS documents published in the Federal Register and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Jan. 7, 2005.  Comments can be submitted by postal mail, commercial delivery or by e-mail.  Send an original and three copies to Docket No. 04-052-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238 or e-mail comments to regulations@aphis.usda.gov.  E-mail comments must be contained in the body of the message; do not send attached files. Include your name and address in the message and type "Docket No. 04-052-1" on the subject line. To submit comments online, go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions for locating this docket and submitting comments.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service