Veterinarians, cattle producers and industry representatives said industry cooperation and partnerships will be critical in implementing age, process and source verification of U.S. cattle. Successful animal ID partnerships were discussed at the 2006 Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Denver, Colo., last week.
"A lot of cattle producers may already have the information needed for animal certification but aren't being rewarded for that information," says producer Greg Carey of Russell, Kan. "Source verification programs can provide buyers with valuable health information about the cattle and allow the sellers to receive premiums for that information, all while meeting eventual government animal identification requirements."
Veterinarians James Rohleder of Hays, Kan., and Dave Barz of Parkston, S.D., joined Carey to explain how they have partnered and used source verification programs to help capture value-added markets for their customers, and in Carey's case, his own cattle operation.
"I've seen for myself how simple, quick and easy source verification can be," Rohleder says. "It's important for all of us in the cattle industry to partner to help in the eventual implementation of national animal identification and to make sure U.S. cattle producers have the tools to compete in today's consumer driven food markets."
Rohleder recently helped facilitate the sale of 1,100 age, process and source verified calves in Kansas that brought an average premium of $10 per head.
"Source verification will challenge, test and redefine the cattle industry like never before and require new partnerships between producers, veterinarians and the animal health industry," says Mark Spire, DVM, Technical Services Manager, Schering-Plough Animal Health Corp.
Speakers emphasized that a changing cattle industry is being driven by worldwide consumer demand which says 'show me the data.' This data is now becoming the new currency of trade and commerce and it's important U.S. cattle producers have the tools to capture potential value in these new source-verified markets, they say.
"Source verification programs are an opportunity for my practice to offer additional services and value-added tools to customers in the cattle industry," says Barz. "Any animal source verification system needs to be low cost, decentralized and locally controlled. I see it as a critical partnership between cattle producers, veterinarians and their animal health suppliers."
One of those tools discussed by Barz is the Tri-Merit individual animal certification program, developed by Schering-Plough and its subsidiary, Global Animal Management Inc. Spire says the program is a decentralized online age and source verification system designed to go above and beyond proposed national animal identification requirements and allow cattle producers to be rewarded for information they may already have at hand.
Spire says Schering-Plough Animal Health and Global Animal Management have decided to help lead and play a more prominent role in age, process and source verification because "not participating in this new wave of 'show me the data' is not an option."
"It makes sense for us to be an active partner and player in this new and changing cattle industry. We owe it to our customers - food producers - to become engaged at ground zero and to provide services, solutions and benefits like Tri-Merit," Spire says.
The Tri-Merit database meets current USDA National Animal Identification System compliance requirements. Additional information about Tri-Merit is available at www.tri-merit.com or www.mygamonline.com.