ID plan aims to speed livestock tracking

US - When the nation's first case of mad cow disease surfaced last June in Texas, agriculture officials took two months to track the cow's history. A new program under way in Maine hopes to reduce that process to less than 48 hours.

State Veterinarian Don Hoenig said the Maine ID program is designed to protect commercial producers' livelihoods as well as ensure consumer confidence in Maine-grown livestock, poultry and fish.

Maine and Vermont have won grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish statewide National Animal Identification System programs. The Maine program - ID ME - will cover commercial and noncommercial livestock operations.

Hoenig said the program would be installed in three phases, the first being registration of livestock premises. "We already have had a couple of hundred premises voluntarily registered," he said.

Hoenig said that once all farms and facilities are registered, the second phase of the program will kick in: animal registration. "A small chip will be implanted in a small 1-inch-in-diameter button that will be placed on the animal's ear," he said. "This chip will have a radio frequency and can be read to find the history of that animal." Hoenig said the chip can provide a national identification number that is part of the U.S. identification program.

Hoenig said that the sooner animal health officials can identify infected and potentially infected animals, the sooner they can stop the spread of disease. This will allow producers to return to normal distribution and give consumers the confidence to continue to buy beef, poultry and fish raised or processed in Maine.

Source: Bangor Daily
calendar icon 12 September 2005
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