Letter to the Editor

Sensible animal-tracking system

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Recently, Lowell Schachtsiek and I attended the Animal Disease Traceability Forum in Kansas City hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Regulatory Working Group to discuss the 12 standards for traceability developed by a coalition of farm and livestock groups also known as the Cattle ID Group. Under the 12 standards, metal tags similar to calf vaccination tags will be used for interstate traceability of beef cattle in the event of serious outbreaks of livestock diseases.

States will be responsible for setting up their own systems of animal trace-back, allowing a workable system without violating the privacy of producers.

This replaces proposals for a massive electronic database covering all livestock and premises where U.S. livestock are raised. Mandatory animal ID was first proposed by the USDA during the Bush administration.

Missouri Farmers Union is gratified that the USDA, under the direction of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, has heard the concerns of Missouri family farmers and ranchers and chosen to promote an identification system designed solely for the purpose of controlling dangerous livestock diseases.

Among all major national producer groups, it was only R-CALF USA that registered outright opposition to the National Animal Identification System. R-CALF's strong resistance helped lead to this sensible solution. MFU would like to express its full appreciation to R-CALF USA and its members.

As a statewide group of independent family farmers and ranchers, MFU is proud of the small role we played helping to defeat mandatory national animal and premise ID.

RICHARD R. OSWALD, President, Missouri Farmers Union, Jefferson City, Mo.