.contact us |.about us
News > International News ... ...
US mulls mandatory national livestock ID program
( 2004-01-22 09:40) (Agencies)

The U.S. Agriculture Department is considering a mandatory national livestock identification program, rather than a voluntary one, that would help track cattle infected with ailments like mad cow disease, U.S Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said yesterday.

A uniform animal ID system -- mandatory or voluntary -- has been given new urgency since the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease on December 23.

Consumer groups say the USDA must require all farmers to participate in a national ID program if it is to work properly.

"That is one of the issues we're looking at very closely," Veneman told a House of Representatives Agriculture Committee hearing on the USDA's mad cow investigation.

She noted some farm groups' concerns about confidentiality of data if a mandatory program is adopted. "We may ask the Congress to assist us with legislation" addressing that, Veneman said.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, said the committee will hold a hearing on March 5 in Houston to discuss a national livestock ID program.

"I understand the need to get it (the ID program) done quickly," Veneman said. But she added that the technology adopted must be flexible to accommodate such things as the needs of different kinds of livestock and size of farms.

"We certainly are putting money into the budget," Veneman told lawmakers, for animal identification.

Proponents say a nationwide system could cost up to US$120 million a year, split among livestock producers and government. Veneman declined to say how much money would be allotted for animal ID. At the minimum, she said, a computer facility would be needed to store ID numbers and animal histories.

Representative Steve King said an animal ID system might pay for itself if it also provided data on animal weight and meat quality -- information that can bring extra money to producers. There "may be enough carcass ID that comes with animal ID that it cash flows," said the Iowa Republican .

Last week, a Reuters survey of 660 American Farm Bureau Federation members found 59 percent said they support a mandatory ID system for U.S. livestock. AFBF delegates, however, voted to support a voluntary system. Farmers traditionally are wary of government intrusion.

The Bush administration has promised to accelerate implementation of a voluntary national program for animal ID as a new safeguard against mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The first step will be assignment of ID numbers to farms, ranches and feedlots this summer.

USDA investigators have been trying to locate the infected Holstein dairy cow's herdmates from the time it was born in Alberta, Canada in 1997.

As many as 98 animals were raised together in Canada with the infected cow -- which means they may have shared the same feed -- then sent to the United States in 2001 in two shipments. The USDA said it has yet to locate 72 of them.

  Today's Top News   Top International News
+China welcomes in New Year, millions on move
( 2004-01-22)
+Orbital module of Shenzhou V keeps flying smoothly
( 2004-01-22)
+China alert against SARS comeback during Spring Festival
( 2004-01-22)
+Central bank issues auto loans rules
( 2004-01-22)
+UC Berkeley's MFE courses going to China
( 2004-01-22)
+Israeli court Issues bribery charge tied to Sharon
( 2004-01-21)
+Sharon may face indictment in bribe case
( 2004-01-22)
+Top U.S. politician: Iraq WMD may have gone to Syria
( 2004-01-22)
+Global powerbrokers told to lose ties
( 2004-01-22)
+US mulls mandatory national livestock ID program
( 2004-01-22)
  Go to Another Section  
  Article Tools  
        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved