L.M.A. skeptical about N.A.I.S. plan

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON — America’s livestock-market operators are skeptical that the current National Animal Identification System plan will maintain the "speed of commerce" in livestock marketing — "an absolute necessity in maintaining a viable marketing system that serves tens of thousands of producers every day," according to the Livestock Marketing Association.

N.A.I.S. should remain a voluntary program, states policy of the L.M.A., which represents about two-thirds of all registered markets in the U.S. Nancy Robinson, L.M.A. vice-president for government and industry affairs, delivered that message during an April 15 discussion on the future of N.A.I.S. called by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at USDA offices in Washington.

Ms. Robinson said for markets, "speed of commerce" means processing and marketing cattle on sale day within just a few hours, minimizing weight shrinkage, protecting the safety and welfare of market employees and the livestock they handle, and moving animals on to their next destination "with a minimum of delay." Maintaining this speed "is the key to assuring that everyone in the production, marketing and processing chain continues to profit and thrive," she added. It must also be U.S.D.A.’s "principal benchmark" in decision-making on the development and implementation of any animal I.D. program, she added.

Ms. Robinson said it is time to quit "muddying the N.A.I.S. waters with talk of value-added, trade, food-safety and [country-of-origin labeling] benefits, and hone in on what" this effort "is really about…animal disease control and eradication."

Starting with the so-called "bookend" I.D. and tracking system would give industry time to adapt to any new I.D. system requirements, she added. It would also allow advanced I.D. technologies time to "catch up with the realities of the U.S. livestock industry." The bookend system requires all livestock to be identified to their premises of origin, so diseased animals can be more-quickly traced by starting at the farm of origin, and back from the point at which the disease was detected, using available sales and other commercial records.

READER COMMENTS:

From: Gary B.
The animal identification system is long overdue. The LMA wants to speed things up. That speed and carelessness has made and will continue to make the livestock marketing system untraceable. The LMA should have already implemented controls of their own and now, should introduce an alternative to NAIS, if they want something different. If LMA wants to police themselves, then get to it.

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