The US pork industry strongly supports a mandatory national animal identification system, said David Kempen, a pork producer from Poteet, Texas, at a US Department of Agriculture listening session on the topic held in Austin.
Presenting comments on behalf of the National Pork Producers Council and the Texas Pork Producers Association, Kempen told USDA officials, “Until animal identification is made mandatory and all premises are registered, it will never have the intended effects of improving the animal health infrastructure, aiding in the control and eradication of highly contagious foreign and domestic animal diseases and, ultimately, protecting the US livestock industry, its producers, processors and hundreds of related businesses and more than a half million mostly rural jobs for Americans.”
Kempen addressed specific concerns about USDA’s National Animal Identification System (NAIS), some of which have been raised by critics of such a system:
• The cost of the NAIS would be minimal and would be far outweighed by the cost of not having the ability to quickly identify, control and eradicate an animal disease.
• The infrastructure and operating costs of the NAIS should be funded through federal appropriations.
• With regard to keeping animal ID information private, there would be no data required by such as system that is not already available through a telephone directory, farm records required by USDA’s Farm Services Agency or state and local permits.
• There is no increased liability from participation in the NAIS.
• More funds need to be allocated to states for registering livestock premises.
• The expectation of recording and reporting all animal movements is too rigorous, too expensive and not necessary to achieve the objectives of the NAIS.
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 – and made it consistent with the NAIS – by registering swine premises and asking pork packers to require premises registration as a condition of sale. NPPC and the National Pork Board have registered more than 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.