Radio-frequency chips coming soon

US - After growing up on a cattle ranch, John Hassell became an electrical engineer specializing in wireless technology. So he feels doubly qualified to offer this warning about the system taking shape to track cattle across America: It won't work.
calendar icon 30 May 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

To be sure, he doesn't quibble with the logic of the system. It stems from the Bush administration's plan to give agriculture inspectors the ability to pinpoint the origins of mad cow and other diseases within 48 hours. Livestock facilities and individual animals will get identifying numbers, which owners will use to document the beasts' movements in industry databases.

The system isn't expected to be fully online until 2009, but already it's clear that in the sprawling U.S. beef and dairy industries -- home to 100 million cattle -- many producers will automate data gathering with radio-frequency chips attached to cattle ears.

Meanwhile, pork and poultry producers tend not to have such worries. Pigs are unlikely to need RFID because the nation's 60 million hogs generally remain in large, easily identifiable lots, said Bobby Acord, a former USDA administrator who chairs the Swine Identification Implementation Task Force. Chickens follow a similar pattern -- and are too numerous to tally individually, anyway, with 9 billion in the U.S. alone.

Source: Post-Gazette

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