WASHINGTON – On July 21 the National Pork Producers Council urged Congress to restore funding for a national animal identification system, calling it vital to the U.S. livestock industry’s ability to more quickly control and eradicate foreign animal diseases and keep export markets open.

Letters sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the agriculture subcommittees of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees said the pork industry’s competitiveness and its exports, which create thousands of jobs and generate wealth, are threatened by the failure of the U.S. to implement an animal I.D. plan.

Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal 2011 agriculture funding bill that did not include money for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s animal traceability program. The House Appropriations agriculture subcommittee also “zeroed out” funding for it. President Obama had requested $14.2 million for the program.

“N.P.P.C. supports a mandatory national I.D. system for all relevant species and is asking lawmakers to put back into the agriculture appropriations bill funding for the traceability program,” said Sam Carney N.P.P.C. president and a pork producer from Adair, Iowa. “The goal of an I.D. system is trace-back of an animal to its farm of origin within 48 hours of the discovery of a disease. That would allow a disease to be brought under control and eradicated more quickly, saving animals – and taxpayer dollars – and keeping foreign markets open to our exports.”

By not having an animal traceability program, the U.S. will be without one of the components the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) considers essential for an effective veterinary services program, N.P.P.C. said in its letter. The U.S. will also be at a serious competitive disadvantage in international markets as other countries tout their animal-tracing capabilities.

Canada, the European Union and Japan and many other major livestock-producing countries have implemented, or are implementing, animal-traceability systems. And most meat-importing countries will be in a position of requiring traceability as a condition for importing meat and will have the support of the O.I.E. in their efforts, N.P.P.C. concluded.