Animal ID Principles Sent to Congress

Groups present information to Congress including recommendation of species-specific plan.

Published on: Jan 15, 2010

NOTICE: This file was corrected Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Members of the Livestock Marketing Association continue to believe that the discussion of a national animal identification plan has moved away from those most affected by it – cattle producers and marketers. Therefore, last November the eight cattle industry organizations have agreed on a statement of 12 principles to help in the development of a cattle disease traceability identification system. The principles, previously presented to USDA, have now been transmitted to members of Congress.

Specifically, the principles provide a common understanding and approach to enhancing current cattle identification and traceability systems for animal disease surveillance and control in the United States. The principles call for an ID plan for the cattle industry which is specie-specific because of the diverse way cattle are raised, marketed and processed.

Nancy Robinson, LMA vice president for government and industry affairs, says those responsible for the production and marketing of cattle have long understood the importance and value of ID for cattle disease surveillance, control and eradication purposes. She says building upon that, they agreed upon principles that should form the basis of a workable, national cattle disease ID plan.

Highlights of the 12 principles:

  • Additional costs to the beef and dairy industry must be minimized.
  • Cattle ID information must be kept confidential and should be kept under the control of state animal health officials. The only data required to be collected should be that necessary only for cattle disease surveillance, control and eradication.
  • There should be renewed emphasis on preventing the introduction of foreign animal diseases.
  • The 48-hour foot and mouth disease traceback model is currently unachievable.
  • The ID system should operate at the speed of commerce.
  • An interstate movement ID program should use as a model the brucellosis/tuberculosis (TB) surveillance and control programs.
  • Any ID enhancements of historically established federal and state cattle disease ID programs – beginning with the individual identification of adult breeding cattle – should be modeled after the TB and brucellosis programs, as they existed prior to USDA’s National Animal ID System modifications, and voluntarily phased-in over a proper time frame.
  • Producers should be protected from liability for the acts of others after the cattle have left the producer’s control.
  • State animal health officials should continue to have their historical flexibility and discretion in assigning an identifier for the person responsible for the livestock, such as in an epidemiological investigation or mitigation of a disease outbreak.
  • Producers should have the flexibility to use currently established and/or evolving methods of official identification.

Signing the statement of the 12 principles were, in addition to LMA, the American Angus Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, R-CALF USA, Texas Cattle Feeders Association and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.