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Subcommittee Reviews Animal Identification Systems

Liz Friedlander (202) 225-1564

James Ryder (202) 225-0020

Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry held a hearing to review animal identification systems.  Representative David Scott of Georgia is the Chairman of the Subcommittee.

“I believe a mandatory system is necessary and carries with it many benefits for producers, processors, and consumers,” Chairman Scott said. “A mandatory system would let us know where infected animals are, so that we could re-route transportation to prevent disease from spreading.  It would help protect producers against the spread of minor animal diseases, as well as from the devastating economic effects of mad cow disease, foot-and-mouth disease, and tuberculosis.  Finally, it would save the government money and provide a vital tool in maintaining the safety and integrity of the food supply, which is of utmost concern to consumers.”

“After five years of throwing over $100 million at a voluntary system, we are still in pretty much the same place,” added full Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota. “Even worse, many of the crucial aspects of the program show little promise of ever being substantially implemented.  Agency staff have told us that the program as currently structured would never be effective in providing the country with a reliable trace-back system. The stakeholders out there need to get together and resolve their differences, a mandatory animal ID system is crucial in order to avoid the economic consequences of a major animal disease outbreak.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture established the National Animal Identification System in 2004 to enhance its existing animal health protection efforts by offering national standards and expanding the level of participation beyond what had been required in existing disease programs.  NAIS is a state-federal-industry partnership that is overseen by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection service.

The Committee heard testimony from three panels of witnesses representing agency administrators, producer groups, and foreign agricultural officials.  Written testimony provided by the witnesses is available on the Committee website: A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website at a later date.

Witness List:

Panel I

· Dr. John R. Clifford, D.V.M., Deputy Administrator, Veterinary Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

  • Mr. Bill Nutt, President-Elect, Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, on behalf of National Cattleman’s Beef Association Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee, Cedartown, Georgia
  • Dr. R.M. (Max) Thornsberry, D.V.M., President of the Board, R-CALF USA, Richland, Missouri
  • Mr. Donald P. Butler, President, National Pork Producers Council, Clinton, North Carolina
  • Dr. Karen Jordan, D.V.M., Owner, Large Animal Veterinary Services, Co-owner, Brush Creek Swiss Farms, on behalf of National Milk Producers Federation, Siler City, North Carolina
  • Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, D.V.M., MBA, Chief Executive Officer, American Veterinary Medical Association, Schaumburg, Illinois

Panel III

  • Dr. Rob Williams, Counsellor (Agriculture), Embassy of Australia, Washington, D.C.
    • Accompanied by Mr. Dean Merrilees, Minister Counsellor (Agriculture), Embassy of Australia, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Kerry St. Cyr, Executive Director, Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA), Calgary, Alberta, Canada


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