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Johanns rules out mandatory livestock ID

01 December 2006

US - The Bush administration has ruled out requiring livestock producers to participate in a national animal identification system.

"Producers want a voluntary system," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Tuesday. "They just recoil against this notion that it's going to be the Washington way or the highway."

Earlier this year, Johanns had said that the system would initially be voluntary but might be made mandatory if enrollment targets were not met. His predecessor, Anne Veneman, had pledged to speed development of a nationwide animal ID system after the nation's first case of mad cow disease was discovered in Washington state three years ago.

However, the ID plan has run into resistance from producers, especially in the cattle industry and among small-scale farms, who don't want to be forced to buy ID tags for their livestock or worry about the privacy of farm data. An ID program is supposed to allow investigators to quickly track suspect livestock in case of a disease outbreak.

Despite guaranteeing that the system will not be mandatory, Johanns said he believes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture can meet its enrollment goals. The department's plan calls for having 40 percent of young animals, and 70 percent of all farms, registered by 2008. So far, about 24 percent of the 47,246 farms in Iowa have registered their operations. The nationwide registration rate is similar.

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Source: Des Moines Register

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