USDA Will Not Make Animal ID Mandatory

Mike Johanns rules out making the voluntary program a mandatory one.

Published on: Nov 29, 2006
USDA Secretary Mike Johanns says the national livestock identification system will remain voluntary rather than mandatory. The notion of a required animal ID plan faced resistance from many producers concerned about privacy issues, extra government controls, and the task of giving each animal an extra ear tag.

"We're headed down the road of getting people to think in terms of animal ID, albeit voluntary in the first instance and then if there's a greater public need through a spread of disease to go further we can make that decision at a later point," says Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

The animal ID program is aimed at controlling disease among animals, especially bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also called 'mad cow disease.' USDA says market demands will give farmers incentive to sign up for the animal ID program, and Grassley questions the applicability of a mandatory program.

"I still have doubts about how it would work, who was going to pay for it because I didn't think farmers should pay for it entirely and it could be very costly, and to make sure that it's something that would be workable and would not be an undue burden especially on small farmers," Grassley says.