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Ranchers want Mandatory ID!

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Mike

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Most Producers Want Mandatory ID
It's certainly not unanimous but a growing number of livestock producers, including cattlemen, want the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) to be mandatory. At least that's according to a couple of recent industry polls.

In fact, according to a poll completed last week by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), 90% of respondents favor a mandatory program. Of these, 61% want the program voluntary during the development stages, then mandatory either "as quickly as possible" or by USDA's NAIS Draft Plan deadline of January 2009. Only 7% of respondents are in favor of a voluntary program.

All NIAA members and participants at the industry's recent ID Info Expo coordinated by NIAA had the chance to respond (more later). The NIAA poll -- described by the organization as a non-scientific study -- represents a 22% response rate (198 responses).

This corroborates a survey BEEF magazine conducted of its readers in July, where 63% stated a preference for mandatory. Overall, 76% in that survey (700 total responses) believed a national animal ID and trace-back system is needed for animal health monitoring.

USDA received the same majority opinion among the 600 or so public comments it received in response to the "Draft Strategic Plan" and "Draft Program Standards" it issued in May. According to John Clifford, Deputy Administrator for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Veterinary Services program, 66% stated a preference for a mandatory program.

The preference for a mandatory program is fairly straightforward. First, many proponents of mandatory ID question how a system aimed at identifying and tracking a large enough percentage of cattle to achieve 48-hour trace-back is possible unless it's a regulatory program.

Similarly, how effective can a voluntary system be if too many cattle are unaccounted for? For that matter, how fair is it for some to finance a system that benefits all? Plus, the logic goes that the more cattle involved, the lower the cost for each producer.

As for timeliness, almost half the NIAA respondents (48%) believe USDA's timeline for NAIS implementation -- requiring all premises be registered, and all livestock entering commerce be tagged with official NAIS ID, by January 2008; all inter-commerce animal movement reported by January of 2009 -- is "adequately aggressive." Another 40% believe the timeline is somewhat or very un-aggressive. Only 7% believe the timeline is too aggressive.

More than half (56%) in the NIAA poll disagree with USDA's recent decision to make the NAIS animal movement reporting database private rather than public.

It's worth knowing that 31% of the respondents cited beef cattle as their primary species of interest. Overall, 19% of survey respondents described themselves as producers or as executives of producer organizations. Another 30% are veterinarians and/or state or federal animal health officials.

In fact, while the public-private database has created such furor within parts of the industry, both the NIAA and BEEF polls indicate this is one of the least concerning aspects of NAIS. In the NIAA poll, funding was the primary concern (22%) and data confidentiality -- one of the primary reasons proponents of a private system opposed a public system -- is of the least concern (3%).

Likewise, 47% of respondents to the BEEF poll cited cost as their primary concern. Data confidentiality came next at 22%.

With cost in mind, 57% of the NIAA respondents believe the federal government should bear the brunt of the total NAIS cost; 16% believe consumers should, and 14% believe producers should be responsible. Ironically though, USDA's opting for a private database shifts the cost of building and maintaining the animal movement database entirely to the private industry (see the roundup, "Good and Bad -- Faster and Slower," also in this newsletter).

"Regardless of the interpretation of these results, there are many unanswered questions among the industry stakeholders," says Glenn Slack, NIAA CEO and president. "Thus, it's ever important we (the industry) remain focused on moving ahead with NAIS to protect our nation's herds and flocks."

See complete NIAA survey results at www.animalagriculture.org; BEEF results can be found in the July issue at www.beef-mag.com.
 

PORKER

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USDA's opting for a private database shifts the cost of building and maintaining the animal movement database entirely to the private industry .
www.scoringag.com has built it for free and it runs everyday in real/time.

Preference for a mandatory program is fairly straightforward. First, many proponents of mandatory ID question how a system aimed at identifying and tracking a large enough percentage of cattle to achieve 48-hour trace-back is possible unless it's a regulatory program.

www.scoringag.com can trace all of North America's livestock within 3-5 seconds without the goverments of North America help.
 

PORKER

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I think it should be sooner,:USDA's timeline for NAIS implementation -- requiring all premises be registered, and all livestock entering commerce be tagged with official NAIS ID, by January 2008; OR Dec .31 2007 **note that the National tag will be ready in 88 days according to APHIS.
 

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