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USDA Pushes Plan to Move NAIS Forward

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's seven-point plan is aimed at getting 70 percent of all cattle in the country enrolled in the National Animal Identification System by 2010.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 03, 2008The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is moving closer to adopting a seven-point business plan for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) program, with a goal of making it possible to trace back an animal's history to its point of origin within 48 hours. The public has until April 15 to review the seven-point draft plan, which was published in December 2007, and to respond to recommendations.

Although the report covers all species of livestock, its emphasis is on the 104 million cattle in the United States, located on 1,000,000 premises including ranches and packing plants. The department's goal is to reach a critical mass of enrolling 70 percent of all cattle into the NAIS program by the end of 2009.

David Wiklund
The NAIS program is an information system developed by the USDA to protect the health of U.S. livestock by tracking the animals as they pass through various premises, and, in the event of an emergency, by making that data available to the producers involved, as well as the appropriate animal health officials. Participation in the program is voluntary at the federal level.

Livestock producers and packing plants that choose to participate are asked to provide information regarding each transaction in which an animal is moved from one site to another, says David Wiklund, project manager for NAIS software development. The NAIS program does not require participants to employ RFID technology, though it does offer recommendations with regard to specific RFID standards and ID numbers. Some producers are using a visible numeric tag, for instance, to allow animal tracking.

The seven-point plan is intended to advance U.S. animal traceability and provides several strategies to further that effort. These include increasing collaboration with the livestock industry, states, tribes and territories, as well as standardizing the way data is collected.

One of the plan's major points calls for the adoption of standardized Animal Identification Numbers (AINs). This would require the elimination of proprietary AINs that are not ISO-compliant, instead using only 15-digit ID numbers that begin with the U.S. country code (840) and comply with the ISO 11784 and 11785 RFID standards for animal tagging, rather than the three-digit manufacturer's code that exists with tags bearing private AINs.

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