U.S.D.A. changes directions on animal I.D.

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is revising its effort to create a National Animal Identification System. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the U.S.D.A. will undertake a new effort that will only apply to animals transported in interstate commerce, will be administered by the states, will utilize cheaper technologies, and be implemented in a transparent fashion through regulatory rulemaking.

“After concluding our listening tour on the National Animal Identification System in 15 cities across the country, receiving thousands of comments from the public and input from states, tribal nations, industry groups, and representatives for small and organic farmers, it is apparent that a new strategy for animal disease traceability is needed,” Mr. Vilsack said. “I’ve decided to revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we heard.”

The U.S.D.A. plans to convene a forum with animal health experts to initiate a dialogue about the possible ways of achieving the flexible, coordinated approach to animal disease traceability. The department also will be revamping the secretary’s advisory committee on animal health to address specific issues, such as confidentiality and liability.

The initial animal traceability initiative met with resistance from livestock producers who expressed concern about the costs of the program as well as the ability of federal regulators to manage confidential information. There also was concern regarding liability in the event of a disease outbreak.

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