The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) will dedicate a portion of its March annual meeting to give industry representatives and participants an opportunity to offer input to state and tribal officials as they begin the task of developing animal identification programs that will be compatible across state and tribal boundaries.

As announced on Feb. 5, USDA is changing course from developing a national system to providing the “framework for animal disease traceability” in which states and tribes will determine their own specific programs and, presumably, their own standards. 

As part of the announcement Agriculture Secretary Vilsack indicated that state and tribal animal health officials will hold a two-day forum in Kansas City, Mo. March 18-19 to initiate a dialogue about the possible ways of achieving the flexible, coordinated approach to animal disease traceability USDA envisions. 

Immediately preceding the forum, the NIAA Animal Identification and Information Systems Committee is convening a panel of animal agriculture representatives to discuss what this new approach will mean to their sector of the industry as well as offer input to the state and tribal officials to incorporate into their later discussions.

“The USDA’s announcement that it will no longer pursue the NAIS strategy is something that has left many in animal agriculture asking for answers,” says Michael Coe, co-chair of the committee. “Given the new direction there are many questions as to what producers, marketers, and processors of livestock in the U.S. should expect as a result of the shift in policy.”

The committee’s panel will include a representative from each of the major food animal sectors as well as the livestock auctions and processors. “We anticipate there will be a substantial amount of discussion that will provide valuable input to USDA, the States and the Tribal Nations on the concerns and ideas from these representatives,” adds Coe.  The committee’s meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 17, from 1 to 5 p.m.

“NIAA has been very involved in convening such panels and conferences over the past two decades in order to assist in developing consensus across animal agriculture on animal identification issues,” says Leonard Bull, chairman of the NIAA board of directors.  “This is yet another opportunity for NIAA to provide the needed forum for animal agriculture to proactively work toward a positive solution to a very difficult and contentious issue.” 

Source: National Institute for Animal Agriculture