Committee Holds Hearing to Review USDA's Development of Animal ID Program

Mar 5, 2004

Houston, Texas- The House Committee on Agriculture today held a field hearing, at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, to review the development of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Identification Program.

USDA has accelerated efforts to develop an animal ID program since the December 23 discovery of mad cow disease in Washington State.

The Committee heard from the Administration, the largest of livestock producer groups, and the hosts of the hearing, the International Livestock Congress. A full witness list is at the bottom of the release.

Animal identification has been at the forefront within the livestock sector. Throughout the fall, discussions regarding various proposals to implement a nationwide animal identification system have gained a new intensity. This is an idea that has been discussed for many years, and there is a growing awareness about the potential value of such a system. The recent BSE finding and the Secretary’s December 30th pledge to speed up the process have given these discussions more urgency.

Goodlatte cautioned that in any discussion of animal ID we must remember that it is not a preventative measure and should not be viewed as an alternative to continued vigilance regarding animal health.

“Everyone has a different concept about what an animal ID program is, what it can and cannot do, and what value it has to producers, processors, retailers and consumers,” Goodlatte said. “For this reason, while we move as quickly as possible it is necessary to take a cautious, deliberative approach so that we end up with a system that benefits all of the interested parties and does not come at the expense of any one sector of our livestock production system.”

Goodlatte has indicated that the Committee will hold future hearings to learn more about the many available identification products, and to hear from members of the academic community and the broader livestock community.

Panel I

Mr. Scott Charbo, Chief Information Officer, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Accompanied by:

The Honorable Nancy Bryson, General Counsel, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Jim Butler, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Keith Collins, Chief Economist, United States Department of Agriculture,
Washington, D.C.

Panel II

Mrs. Jan Lyons, President, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Manhattan, Kansas

Ms. Joy Philippi, Pork Producer, Bruning, Nebraska, on behalf of the National Pork Producers Council

Mr. A.H. “Chico” Denis, III, Vice-President, Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, San Angelo, Texas, on behalf of the American Sheep Industry Association

Mr. Charles Beckendorf, Chairman, National Milk Producers Federation, Tomball, Texas

Dr. Gary C. Smith, Ph.D., Vice Chairman, International Stockmen’s Educational Foundation, Houston, Texas