New ID system to impact livestock big and small

US - The government wants to learn where the nation's livestock live, whether in massive feedlots or backyard chicken coops.

It's a daunting and controversial goal, but the first challenge is getting the word out. Starting July 1, Texans who own livestock of any kind or number must register with the state and pay an administrative fee of $20 for two years.

The state program is a step toward a National Animal Identification System, which is intended to allow health officials to track potentially devastating diseases such as avian bird flu, hoof and mouth disease and mad cow disease. Other states are also phasing in rules with the aim of collaborating in a national tracking system by 2009.

Farmers and ranchers have been debating the national system since it was announced two years ago, with some raising privacy concerns. But it appears many small-time livestock raisers are unaware that they too will have to sign up.

"I don't know the general public realizes that yet," said Will Kiker, a McLennan County agriculture extension agent. "Eventually they will, but it will take some time to get the word out."

The Texas Animal Health Commission is set to vote Feb. 16 on details of the first phase of the program, and it will accept public comment until Monday.

The first phase, premise identification, simply requires livestock owners to register with the state and disclose their address and species of animals they are raising. Show barns, slaughterhouses, veterinary clinics and other facilities that handle animals will also have to register.

Source: Wacotrib
calendar icon 7 February 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
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