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NPPC urges congress to support animal ID system

Saying a mandatory animal identification system is needed to maintain the viability of the US pork industry and all of animal agriculture, NPPC has urged Congress to support and fund the US Department of Agriculture's National Animal Identification System.

Testifying before the House Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry, NPPC President Don Butler said a mandatory animal ID system will:

• Provide US pork producers and federal and state animal health officials with improved tools to manage swine herd health through disease surveillance, control and eradication programs.

• Enable US pork producers to maintain and promote access to international markets, which are critical to the continued viability of the pork industry.

• Strengthen the security of the nation's livestock industry, especially in the event of an intentional introduction of a pathogen or toxin that could affect animal health.

ID system goal
The goal of an ID system is trace back of an animal to its farm of origin within 48 hours of the discovery of a disease, which will allow it to be brought under control and eradicated more quickly, thereby saving taxpayer dollars and animals and keeping foreign markets open to our exports, Butler told the panel.

The US pork industry in 1988 established a swine ID system, which helped eradicate pseudorabies from the commercial herd. It since has enhanced its system by registering swine premises and asking pork packers to require premises registration as a condition of sale. Through 2008, NPPC and the National Pork Board had registered about 54,000, or 80%, of the estimated 67,300 hog farms. Premises registration data includes the physical location of a farm, a contact telephone number and other publicly available information.

Lack of federal funding
USDA in 2004 established the National Animal Identification System, but a series of missteps, misinformation from groups opposed to it and, now, a lack of federal funding have hampered implementation of the animal ID system. NPPC urged Congress and the Obama administration to support and provide adequate funds for a mandatory national animal identification system for all relevant livestock species, allowing each industry to develop its own effective and affordable system.

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