Calling it vital to the United States livestock industry’s ability to more quickly control and eradicate foreign animal diseases and keep export markets open, the National Pork Producers Council urged Congress to restore funding for a national animal identification system.
In letters sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the agriculture subcommittees of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, NPPC said the pork industry’s competitiveness and its exports, which create thousands of jobs and generate wealth, are threatened by the failure of the U.S. to implement an animal ID plan.
The Senate Appropriations Committee two weeks ago approved a fiscal 2011 agriculture funding bill that stripped out money for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s animal traceability program. The House Appropriations agriculture subcommittee also “zeroed out” funding for it. President Obama had requested $14.2 million for the program.
“NPPC supports a mandatory national ID system for all relevant species and is asking lawmakers to put back into the agriculture appropriations bill funding for the traceability program,” said NPPC President Sam Carney, a pork producer from Adair, Iowa. “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. That would allow a disease to be brought under control and eradicated more quickly, saving animals – and taxpayer dollars – and keeping foreign markets open to our exports.”
By not having an animal traceability program, NPPC said in its letter, the United States will be without one of the components the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) considers essential for an effective veterinary services program. The United States will be at a serious competitive disadvantage in international markets as other countries tout their animal tracing capabilities.
Many major livestock-producing countries, including Canada, the European Union and Japan, have implemented, or are implementing, animal traceability systems. And most meat-importing countries will be in a position of requiring traceability as a condition for importing meat and will have the support of the OIE in their efforts, NPPC pointed out.