Farmers debate about animal identification system

12-12-2007 | | |

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 and livestock.
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 reported outbreak.
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 “premises” 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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