Earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced the Department of Agriculture's guiding principles for the development of a public-private partnership that enables the private sector to maintain animal movement data as part of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

"We are gratified by the growing support for an animal identification system, with over 100,000 premises now registered," Johanns says.

He adds, "We are eager to work closely with industry as they develop and maintain databases that contain animal movement information. After hearing the confidentiality concerns of producers, we envision a system that allows these databases to feed a single, privately held animal-tracking repository that we can access."

USDA's four guiding principles for the NAIS are as follows:

  • The system must be able to allow tracking of animals from point of origin to processing within 48 hours without unnecessary burden to producers and other stakeholders.
  • The system's architecture must be developed without unduly increasing
    the size and role of government.
  • The system must be flexible enough to utilize existing technologies
    and incorporate new identification technologies as they are developed.
  • Animal movement data should be maintained in a private system that can
    be readily accessed when necessary by state and federal animal health

USDA solicited public input on NAIS through a variety of means — including the formation of a special subcommittee under the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Foreign Animal and Poultry Diseases, a series of listening sessions across the country in 2004, and a thinking paper published for public comment in May 2005.

Public response indicates there is widespread support for a system to rapidly trace potentially exposed animals in the event of an animal disease outbreak. A majority of producers who responded also favored a system that allows the animal movement data to be privately held.

USDA officials will schedule a stakeholder meeting this fall to clarify expectations for the private tracking system and discuss user requirements and system specifications.

More information about NAIS is available at: www.usda.gov/nais