The United States Animal Identification Organization has cleared several technical and procedural hurdles in developing a national animal movement database for use by the nation's livestock producers.
The USAIO database is a producer-controlled, multi-species solution for livestock producers participating in the National Animal Identification System. Producers retain ownership of their data at all times, with state and federal animal health officials having access to the information only when necessary for animal health surveillance.
USAIO recently submitted two key documents to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: an Application for Cooperative Agreement, and an Application for System Evaluation. Through these applications, USAIO continues the dialogue with APHIS that began with its submission of a Memorandum of Agreement earlier this year.
"USAIO's interaction with APHIS has been extremely positive and constructive to date," says Charles Miller, a Kentucky cattlemen and chairman of the USAIO Board of Directors. "USDA remains committed to a producer-led solution, while USAIO brings something very important to the animal ID discussion - a simple way for government to access the data it needs while producers continue to own and protect their business information."
The USAIO animal movement database will provide tracking and traceback capability at a cost of about 30 cents per head for the life of an animal, regardless of the number of transactions. This represents the database cost only, not on-the-farm costs such as identification tags. But Miller says competition and innovation can help contain these costs and, as a producer-driven group, USAIO works across the industry to minimize the costs and total impact of animal identification on small livestock operations.
During recently completed beta testing, the USAIO database met or exceeded all expectations. The database has shown the ability to handle a very high volume of information, and is capable of additional features and functions without the need for extensive reprogramming.
The database is soon expected to enter the first of three implementation phases, involving about 12 high-volume users. Before moving to Phase Two, USAIO's goal is to successfully record about 1 million movements and transactions. During Phase Two, the volume of events will climb to about 250,000 per month, from a larger group of users. This will ensure that the database is capable of serving all producers that want to utilize the system, with general availability expected in the fourth quarter of 2006.
Miller says that as market demands increase for age and source verification and the need for disease surveillance tools intensifies, USAIO's mission of developing a movement database solution for livestock producers has become more critical than ever.
"The animal identification debate often focuses on divisive questions such as government vs. private control, and voluntary vs. mandatory participation," Miller said. "Meanwhile, critical time and opportunities will be lost unless an effective database is developed and made available to producers. That's why USAIO remains focused on solutions, rather than getting sidetracked by these other issues."