Meat + Poultry - July 2010 - 20

Washington
BY BERNARD SHIRE
meatpoultry@sosland.com

Wanted: Better traceback
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, the
50 state departments of agriculture
and Native American tribes are in the
midst of redesigning their National
Animal Identification System. This
is a program USDA and the states
began operating six years ago to carry out health surveillance of livestock
by identifying and tracking livestock
herds, as well as individual animals.
The redesign is part of a plan to improve the program and to get more

health in the U.S., and which has implemented the animal-health program
since 2004, held "listening hearings"
on NAIS looking for advice about the
best way to implement and improve
the program. The program had been
criticized by farmers, ranchers, the
state departments of agriculture represented by the National Association
of State Departments of Agriculture
(NASDA), Native American tribes,
the meat industry and others.

Major debate

"Trace back and forward
is essential in order to
address animal-health
emergencies."
farmers, ranchers, other producers
and meat and poultry slaughtering
and processing companies to participate in animal-disease traceability.
The purpose of the program,
which began in 2004, was to give
producers not already part of a livestock health program an opportunity to participate in national efforts to
safeguard the health of food animals.
What originally spurred NAIS was
when the fi rst case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in the U.S. on Dec. 23, 2003.
But other food-animal diseases, such
as foot-and-mouth disease, also put
pressure on to set up a viable means
of tracing food animals back to their
sources, or identifying the premises
where the animals come from, especially when disease occurs.
Last summer, USDA's Animal and
Plant Inspection Service (APHIS),
which is responsible for food-animal

Between last summer and now, there
was a great deal of debate over whether
the program was being run well or not.
Central to concerns expressed about
the program was debate over whether
it should remain voluntary, or become
mandatory. The success of NAIS was
described by various groups as mixed.
In fact, less than one-third of farmers
and ranchers were willing to participate in the old APHIS NAIS animal
health traceability program, despite
the fact that under the Bush administration USDA spent more than $120
million on the program. It is no secret there are concerns about and opposition to NAIS, largely due to the
control of the program by the federal
government, rather than states, as well
as some of the program's mandatory
aspects and its high costs.
On Feb. 5, Agriculture Secretary
Tom Vilsack made an appearance at
NASDA's Mid-Year meeting in Washington, D.C., and announced USDA,
through APHIS, would develop a new,
flexible framework for animal-disease
traceability in the U.S., as well as undertaking several other actions to further strengthen its USDA's disease prevention and response capabilities. Amy
Mann, director of legislative and regulatory affairs for NASDA, says when
the announcement was made representatives of the state departments of
agriculture were quite happy, realizing
they would be playing a major role in

20 * Meat&Poultry * July 2010 * www.MeatPoultry.com

developing and operating a new national animal-identification system to
trace diseases in food animals across
the U.S.
Since then, a lot has been happening to redesign and change the program, says Lyndsay Cole, an APHIS
spokeswoman. There have been many
public meetings for discussion about
the program, with meetings being held
all over the U.S. during the months of
March, April and May. More meetings were scheduled for June and July.
"APHIS has conveyed a regulatory working group of federal, state
and Tribal Nations animal-health
officials to assess options for the animal disease traceability framework,
provide input to our agency and review the feedback received from the
public and other partners," Cole says.
According to Benjamin Richey, executive director of the United States
Animal Health Association, a group
that includes state veterinarians are
playing a major role in re-writing the
program. One of those is Dr. Becky
Brewer, state veterinarian for Oklahoma. Three other state veterinarians are members of the 20-member
working group.

Filling the NAIS void
"The United States is the only one
of the five-biggest beef-producing
countries in the world without a national animal identification system for
health purposes," Brewer says. "So
that is going to change. It is going to
be a very simple system, as simple
as producers and others want it, using ear tags to identify the animals."
Electronic identification will also be
possible, she says.
Brewer says the new system will
be focused entirely on animal-disease
traceability and will be led and administered by the states and tribal nations,
not the federal government. "The
rulemaking will come from APHIS,
but the performance standards, how


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat + Poultry - July 2010

Contents
Meat + Poultry - July 2010 - 1
Meat + Poultry - July 2010 - 2
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