USDA Ends National Animal ID Program

February 4, 2010 06:00 PM

By Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy & Washington Editor

USDA announced this morning that it will scrap the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and instead will opt to develop "a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the United States, and undertake several other actions to further strengthen its disease prevention and response capabilities."

After listening sessions in 15 cities in the U.S., USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack said USDA will "revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we heard."

The framework provides the basic tenets of an improved animal disease traceability capability in the United States.

USDA's efforts will:

  • Only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce;
  • Be administered by the States and Tribal Nations to provide more flexibility;
  • Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and
  • Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.

One of USDA's first steps will be to convene a forum with animal health leaders for states and Tribal Nations to initiate a dialogue about the possible ways of achieving the flexible, coordinated approach to animal disease traceability we envision. Additionally, USDA will be revamping the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Animal Health to address specific issues, such as confidentiality and liability.

Although USDA has a robust system in place to protect U.S. agriculture, USDA said ina release, "with today's announcement, the Department will also be taking additional actions to further strengthen protections against the entry and spread of disease. These steps will include actions to lessen the risk from disease introduction, initiating and updating analyses on how animal diseases travel into the country, improving response capabilities, and focusing on greater collaboration and analyses with States and industry on potential disease risk overall."

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