Livestock producers are supporting efforts to develop an animal movement database that will be coordinated in the private sector and serve as a key component of a national animal identification system.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Holstein Association USA believe an industry-led, non-profit, multi-species consortium is the best way to help administer a movement database as part of the NAIS to ensure producer participation and confidentiality. While development of the database is on track, the groups are now looking to USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and to other industry associations for input on how to proceed.
"The animal movement database is a relatively narrow part of the entire NAIS," says Allen Bright, NCBA's animal ID coordinator and a cattle producer from Nebraska. "But as animal groups move forward to meet the needs of animal traceback, we need clear direction from APHIS on their needs for the database and these groups must come together as partners and decide on an aggressive timeline."
NCBA is reaching out to partners within the livestock industry to turn over the database management to a multi-species consortium. Holstein Association USA brings a long history of animal tracking experience for a vitally important sector of the livestock industry.
Producer groups agree that a movement database needs to be controlled by the private sector, but Bright says no industry group will profit from the program. "It's important that the program remain a not-for-profit venture administered by the folks in the affected animal industries."
In the dairy and beef sector there is a very real and imminent need for an effective ID system that integrates existing systems into a national solution. "Many ID and brand programs already exist for livestock," says Bright. "We believe new technologies will help enhance those programs while giving animal health authorities the tools they need for effective animal surveillance."
Industry stakeholders gathered in Kansas City Wednesday to discuss a privatized animal movement database at a USDA-hosted public meeting. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced August 30 that USDA would support development of an animal movement database controlled within the private sector.
Bright says an animal industry consortium can have an animal movement database in place in a very short period of time. "The opportunity is ours and the time frame is now," says Bright. "We welcome and look forward to working with other animal industry partners."