Tracing Communicable Disease
In a major compromise to the livestock industry, the Obama administration plans to start over in developing a way to trace communicable disease in livestock after resistance from ranchers and farmers.
In doing so, it is abandoning the National Animal Identification System, developed by the Bush administration in 2004 after identification of mad cow disease in 2003.
Participation was voluntary and ranchers objected to the extra work and cost in identifying cattle.
As it now stands, states will have to devise systems to identify livestock. New federal rules, when they are developed in as long as two years, will only apply to livestock being moved interstate, such as livestock transported to a slaughter house in another state.
The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) was intended to give health officials the ability to trace every pig, chicken or cow with a unique identification number that would be entered into a database. If there was a disease outbreak such as mad cow disease or E.coli, agricultural officials would be able to locate the sick animal and others who had been exposed to the sick animal.
The old system received $142 million in federal funds, but ultimately only 40% of the livestock producers participated. Tom Vilsack, the head of the Department of Agriculture was bombarded with opposition to the NAIS. Opponents such as the American Farm Bureau Federation opposed the identification system.
It was just overwhelming in the country that people didn’t like it, and I think they took that feedback to heart,” said Mary Kay Thatcher, public policy director to the New York Times.
Carol Tucker Foreman, with the Consumer Federation of America agrees that managing the old system state-by-state was not working.
“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that it will develop a new framework for animal identification and traceability is a welcome break from previous attempts to develop a National Animal Identification System,” said Foreman in a statement.
The Obama administration plans on working in consultation with the livestock industry and state in developing a new system. #