With a recent case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and potential bioterrorist attacks, the livestock industry has been forced to accept the fact that a national animal identification system is likely one that will be a required part of business. And, according to a USDA official, producers will have to partner with state and industry members to pick up two-thirds of the cost.
USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins gave the first solid indication of what the government would be willing to pay for implementing a national animal ID system. Reuters reports that the government will likely pay approximately one-third of the estimated $550 million cost to set up an identification system.
Collins adds that he believed the USDA was close to gaining White House approval to dip into emergency funding so it can launch the nationwide program yet this year. The Bush administration has already requested $33 million for fiscal year 2005 to be designated towards animal ID work beginning Oct. 1, 2004. Collins explains that if "$33 million is the benchmark, the federal government might pay $165 million over five years, or one-third of the cost," the Reuters article states.
The U.S. Animal Identification Plan calls for premise ID numbers beginning this summer to farms, ranches, feedlots and packing plants. Collins adds that USDA will act as an issuer of the numbers and storehouse of the data, but states and private agencies would assign the numbers. Legislation is still needed to keep the information confidential, he adds.