The National Animal Identification System isn’t moving ahead fast enough. That’s according to a survey conducted at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) annual ID INFO EXPO 2006 conference last week regarding animal identification. More than 80 percent of respondents suggested the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s NAIS implementation is behind expectations. In addition, 78 percent of the more than 100 respondents said NAIS should be a mandatory program.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, who gave the keynote address at the meeting, stressed the program will remain voluntary under his watch. He believes the market place will drive the implementation of NAIS through premium opportunities for producers.

Respondents named cost and confidentiality as two of the greatest hurdles to implementing NAIS; however, many noted progress is definitely being seen on those fronts. Secretary Johanns also noted these as two of the biggest areas USDA is focused on.

According to Johanns, he believes both of these issues are being addressed by allowing private data management companies to serve as suppliers for the program.

“Enhanced computer-based technology and the development of, and reduction in cost of radio frequency identification devices, have helped drive the program from a technology standpoint,” said Scott Stuart, chairman of the board for NIAA. “Competition in the market will encourage continual technology improvement and help to drive costs lower for our producers.”

Participants agreed that using an easy, single-source tracking solution would be the best option to help improve implementation of NAIS. They also suggested that recent technology improvements, including naming the first interim Animal Tracking Database provider, is the greatest success of the program to date. 

Using veterinarians to serve as facilitators to encourage producer sign-up was the second most suggested option to improve NAIS implementation.

More than 20 percent of the academia, federal and state officials, animal health and industry experts present responded to the survey, which was administered by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and Tri-Merit™, provided by Schering-Plough Animal Health and powered by Global Animal Management, Inc.

NIAA, Global Animal Management, Inc.