On November 30, 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation announced their partnership to work with the USDA to facilitate the registration of cattle premises as part of the National Animal Identification System. This partnership is also in cooperation with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
The partnering of these organizations is designed to enhance the ability of the USDA to track animal diseases. The USDA recently released their business plan on animal disease traceability, which outlines their strategies to reach their long term goal of sufficiently tracing animal disease. The program will allow them to use data to trace a disease back to the farm or feedlot that the disease originated from. This is designed to prevent the outbreak of diseases that may have an adverse effect on the economy and will allow other cattle farms, feedlots, slaughter plants, etc. to protect themselves from the spread of a disease.
This partnership also affects the livestock transport industry as several independent hauling companies are contracted to transport cattle to various farms, feedlots and slaughter plants on a regular basis. By being aware of the animal identification program and the goals of the program, livestock transporters are also able to play their part in assisting health officials and the USDA to track the animals as they are transported from one location to another.
Presently, the National Identification System is a voluntary program. The program includes three steps including premise registration, animal identification and tracing. Premise registration is important to the program as it creates a network of livestock owners and health officials that will be able to communicate and work together should an animal disease outbreak occur. To date, there are 426,671 premises registered with the program and the USDA.
Other organizations that have also partnered with the USDA and the NAIS include the American Angus Association, the National Pork Board, the American Sheep Industry, National FFA Organization, National Milk Producers Federation, and the U.S. Animal Identification Organization.
The Animal Identification program currently offers farms and other operations two choices for identification. Animals can be identified individually, which may be a good option for different types of animals or specific animals, such as bulls used for breeding on a cattle farm. Or, animals can be identified by group or lot. This option is best suited for those animals that are moved together in herds, like a herd of cows or cattle that are transported in groups for slaughter.