If you want to show livestock at an Illinois state, county, 4-H or FFA fair next year, you'll need a premises identification number from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The new ruling applies to swine, cattle, sheep, goats, equine, poultry, rabbits and llamas that will be exhibited at an Illinois fair, beginning in 2008.
Premises registration is the first step in the setup of a National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The tracking system is designed to improve the ability of animal health professionals to contain disease outbreaks.
"Knowing the location of each and every livestock operation in the state would enable us to quickly trace the movement of infected animals, impose quarantines and, perhaps, prevent the disease from spreading to neighboring farms if an outbreak were to occur," Illinois Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. "The information is absolutely critical to our disease-fighting capabilities, especially at events like fairs where large numbers of animals are confined for short periods of time and then moved. This is one, reasonable step we can take to protect not only the health of livestock, but also the livelihood of the entire livestock industry."
To date, the IDOA has signed up about 9,000 Illinois livestock operations, or 30% of the state's premises. While signup in Illinois exceeds the USDA's 2007 target of 25%, "full participation will be needed if the system is to achieve its goal of identifying all animals and premises that have been exposed to a disease within 48 hours of its discovery," said Colleen O'Keefe, state veterinarian.
Registration is free and takes about 10 minutes to complete. The process consists of a short questionnaire that asks for a facility's name, address, phone number and the types of livestock it raises. The application form is posted on the IDOA's Web site at www.agr.state.il.us/premiseid.
Producers who register online will receive a premises ID number immediately. The application also can be completed and returned by mail, but may take four weeks to process. To obtain a copy of the form, call (866) 299-9256.
Because the identification number corresponds to the location where an animal is raised, it does not have to be issued in the exhibitor's name. The number must be obtained and included on entry forms, however, before fairs will allow an animal to compete.