U.S. to phase in animal ID plan

The U.S. is developing an animal identification plan for all species, that will include aquaculture.
November 24, 2003

The U.S. is developing an animal identification plan for all species, that will include aquaculture. Initial implementation of the plan, designed to help safeguard animal health, will focus on the cattle, swine, and small ruminant industries but will include bison, beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine, sheep, goats, camelids (alpacas and llamas), horses, cervids (deer and elk), poultry (eight species including game birds), and 11 aquaculture species.

State animal health officials, livestock industry groups and the federal government are working together to finalize the plan, which will be in three phases: Phase I involves premises identification; Phase II involves individual or group/lot identification for interstate and intrastate commerce; and Phase III involves retrofitting remaining processing plants and markets and other industry segments with appropriate technology that will enhance the ability to track animals throughout the livestock marketing chain to protect and improve the health of the national herd.

In transition, the USAIP recommends that: all states have a premises identification system in place by July, 2004; unique, individual or group/lot numbers be available for issuance by February, 2005; all cattle, swine, and small ruminants possess individual or group/lot identification for interstate movement by July, 2005; all animals of the remaining species/industries identified above be in similar compliance by July, 2006.

These standards will apply to all animals within the represented industries regardless of their intended use as seedstock, commercial, pets or other personal uses.

States, industry and the USDA have been working in partnership on the plan through the National Animal Identification Development Team. The team, which includes a steering committee and five working groups, has produced a draft plan with the working name of the U.S. Animal Identification Plan (USAIP).  It carries the tagline “Protecting American Animal Agriculture.”

“The development of a national identification plan has been worked on for several years, but the recent BSE experience in Canada has reinforced the need for the U.S. to introduce a national plan as soon as practicably possible,” said Neil Hammerschmidt, Chief Operating Officer of the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium and co-chair of the development team’s steering committee.

“A national plan which IDs all food animals and livestock will allow the U.S. to identify any animals exposed to disease and will facilitate stopping the spread of that disease,” said Glenn Slack, president and CEO of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA). “This will help protect American animal agriculture from the devastating effects that might occur in the event of a case of BSE, foot and mouth disease or other deleterious diseases ever being discovered in the U.S.”

The draft plan draws on existing voluntary and compulsory animal identification programs currently in place in the U.S. and coordinates these into a truly national program for the first time.  

“Maintaining the health of the U.S. animal herd is the most urgent issue for the industry and is the focus of the draft plan,” said Hammerschmidt. “The benefits of a national animal health identification system include enhanced disease control and eradication capabilities, rapid containment of foreign animal disease outbreaks and enhanced ability to respond to threats to biosecurity.”

“A national system would also provide benefits to industry in terms of market access and consumer demands,” said Slack. “Source and process verification are gaining consumer momentum, providing producers with an added value opportunity. Also, livestock and animal products from the U.S. are highly marketable worldwide. Assuring animal traceability through animal identification adds value to the product.”

“Furthermore, as more retailers and consumers demand source-verified systems, the ability of producers to sell their products to these markets might depend on the ability to trace animals to the farm of origin,” said Slack. “Other countries have already developed systems that are being used as technical barriers to trade. These systems are rapidly becoming the world standard. The U.S needs to be consistent with the animal tracking systems of its international trading partners to avoid the loss of international markets.”

The draft plan follows 18 months of intensive work by states, industry and USDA. In early 2002, NIAA’s Animal Identification and Information System Committee organized an NIAA task force comprised of approximately 100 representatives of more than 30 stakeholder groups. After months of work, the task force produced the National Identification Work Plan (NIWP). That plan was presented at the NIAA ID/INFO EXPO in Chicago in July 2002. The final draft of the NIWP was then presented to the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) at its annual meeting in October 2002.

The USAHA accepted the plan with a resolution calling for USDA, APHIS, VS, to establish a National Animal Identification Team composed of state, industry and federal partners to further develop a national plan, using the NIWP as a guide."  With this charge, APHIS, VS identified key industry leaders to serve as the team’s Steering Committee. These steering committee members then selected members of five working groups, including Communication, Transition, Standards, Governance and Information Technology.


or contact:
Scott Stuart, USAIP Communication Subcommittee Co-Chair, +1 (719)-538-8843,
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