AVMA urges Congress to adopt mandatory animal identification

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Apr 01, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

Washington — In testimony on a proposal to create a unified national food-safety agency, the AVMA argued that the most important component in food safety is a mandatory nationwide program that tracks livestock.

That was the message Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, the AVMA's CEO and executive vice president, delivered to Congress.

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS), a program run by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is an information system under which food animals are tagged so that their movements can be tracked in the event of a disease outbreak.

Livestock identification and pre-mises registration in NAIS currently are voluntary. Only about one-third, or 505,000, of America's food-animal production facilities currently are registered.

Making the NAIS mandatory would allow for the quick control of diseases entering the food supply. The speedy turnaround could save millions of animal lives and billions of dollars, as well as shield public health and U.S. trade from profound damages, DeHaven said.

"The U.S. cannot afford to wait for a crisis to make a mandatory animal-identification system a reality," DeHaven said.