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Editorial: Livestock IDs

Monday, September 25, 2006

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has devised a plan whose goal is to monitor the nation's livestock production system so that livestock and premises that have had contact with a disease could be identified within 48 hours.

The plan would place radio-frequency tags on certain individual animals and also would track the movement of groups of animals.

This animal identification system at the current time is voluntary, but some in government and some farmers would like everyone in the industry to participate.

U.S. Sen. Jim Talent and U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson have introduced a bill that would prevent the animal identification system from becoming mandatory.

They say it's unnecessary, costly and could force the disclosure of farmers' records to competitors.

Safeguarding the nation's food system is a valid concern, but the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of any plan must be carefully tested and proven first.

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