Farmers debate about animal identification system
A farmers group in Massachusetts has asked the state
Department of Agricultural Resources not to give the federal government data
identifying the location of poultry in the state.
Some poultry farmers believe the National Animal Identification System
(NAIS) is a safeguard that protects their livelihood and investment.
However, others have made it clear that they felt strongly that they
did not wish to participate. A group opposing the system, the Northeast Organic
Farming Association, has petitioned agricultural commissioner Douglas W.
Petersen asking that he not provide the USDA with data on the state's poultry
Participation in the state-administered program is still voluntary. The
Department of Agricultural Resources believes that an efficient tracking system
is necessary because of the increase in the number of disease outbreaks
reported. The aim of the USDA is to have a nationwide system in place that will
allow the successful tracking of diseased animals within 48 hours of any
The Department of Agricultural Resources has been collecting information on
premises with agricultural animals and uploading it into a database. Currently,
information is being gathered only on premises where poultry are kept. No
information is being gathered on individual animals.
According to a Department of Agricultural Resources spokesman, at this
time the agency is gathering only basic â€œpremisesâ€ information and has no plan
to request information on individual animals.
However, it is reported that NAIS is designed to eventually provide each
farm an identification number that would, in turn, be a component of an animal's
identification number. The identifications numbers would allow officials to
quickly trace the movement of animals identifying potential exposure as well as
the source of a disease.
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