Vt. Agency Wants to Create Farm Registry

VERMONT - The Vermont Agency of Agriculture wants to keep closer track of all livestock in the state to be prepared in case of an outbreak of mad cow disease, avian flu or other diseases.The agency has proposed requiring that all livestock farms register with the state.

The registry is necessary "so that if we have an outbreak of disease we can act very, very quickly," Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr said last week.

The new rules must first be approved by a legislative committee. If passed, they would take effect in July, officials said.

The plan is part of a national effort to eventually identify every cow, pig and chicken and store information about them in a database, officials said. The Agriculture Department is developing an animal tracking system that would allow livestock to be traced within 48 hours.

After mad cow disease was confirmed two years ago in a Washington state heifer imported from Canada, more than 450 cows had to be destroyed because it was unclear how many animals came in contact with the infected one, Kerr said.

The discovery of the disease in the U.S. cost beef producers between $3.2 billion and $4.7 billion in lost exports, said state Veterinarian Dr. Kerry Rood.

The state's livestock have been relatively disease-free for nearly 20 years, officials said. Vermont eradicated tuberculosis in 1979, brucellosis in 1982 and is working to control rabies and West Nile virus.

The federal government required all states to develop a farm registry system by 2005, Kerr said.

Vermont has not yet determined what size farms will have to register, but Kerr said he is concerned about small backyard flocks.

"In my opinion, we need to make this mandatory to the backyard level," he said.

Source: ABC 7 News
calendar icon 29 December 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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