A new proposal from USDA outlines timelines and benchmarks for the establishment of the National Animal Identification System, along with a plan for the initial integration of private and state animal tracking databases with NAIS. Over the next two and a half years USDA wants 100% of premises registered and new animals identified and 60% of animals less than a year old to have complete movement data.
The full plan, available at the NAIS Web site, gives an overview of what is currently in place and final components of the program expected to be operational in early 2007.
By early 2007, USDA expects to have the technology in place, called the Animal Trace Processing System or commonly known as the metadata system, that will allow state and federal animal health officials to query the NAIS and private databases during a disease investigation. The animal tracking databases will record and store animal movement tracking information for livestock that state and federal animal health officials will query for animals of interest in a disease investigation.
Currently only 235,000 premises are registered, or about 10% of the estimated national total. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns says some may question that the system isn't working with 90% not participating. However, he explains that 10% are on-board with what essentially was a "national animal ID thinking paper."
The plan outlines the following benchmarks for progress:
- January 2007: 25% of premises registered
- January 2008: 70% of premises registered; 40% of animals identified
- January 2009: 100% of premises registered; 100% of "new" animals identified; 60% of animal <1 year of age have complete movement data
Johanns says the benchmarks are important to determine "when or if we need to do a mandatory approach," he explains. "As we hit those benchmarks, we'll see how we're doing."
The secretary continued to stress the need for industry support for a national system. If only 50% is participating, it won't get the job done, he says.
And in a global economy, the United States needs identification in place to remain competitive. Canada and Australia are already ahead on the identification front.
If USDA finds the voluntary approach isn't working, Johanns explains it has the authority to change the system into a mandatory one without Congress writing new legislation.