Northwest beef industry leaders plan to implement a pilot animal-identification system in six western states aimed at ensuring a diseased animal or tainted meat can be traced within 48 hours.

Industry groups in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and California have signed on to the pilot program. The project will enroll about 12,000 cattle in the next two to three years, slowly adding bison and sheep, Rick Stott, vice president of business development for Boise, Idaho-based Agri Beef Co., said Friday.

"The primary objective of the project itself is to find a workable, manageable and the least expensive way for producers to implement the animal ID system that's being proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture," said Stott, who is chairing the program.

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