Dairy Excel: Ohio’s dairy industry unified in support of U.S. animal identification program

Many of Ohio’s dairy industry leaders unanimously resolved to support the implementation of the U.S. Animal Identification Program at meetings held this past month.

In agreement. Board members of the Ohio Dairy Industry Forum, representing dairy producers, dairy processors, allied industry businesses along with retailers and distributors, agreed that a single comprehensive identification program is needed to help provide food safety, animal health, and industry stability.

Resolution. The ODIF resolution states: “In recognition that the food animal industry of the United States has a continuing commitment to provide the safest, most wholesome and economically available food supply, the Ohio Dairy Industry Forum hereby resolves to enhance food safety, animal health, market stability and homeland security by endorsing creation of a comprehensive and efficient means of tracking livestock movements from birth to slaughter.

“The sole purpose of the animal tracking system shall be to facilitate epidemiological trace backs and determine exposure status of animals and herds when such investigations are necessary to protect human or animal health and the capacity to produce safe, wholesome foods of animal origin.”

Specifics. Other specifics of the resolution include:

* The establishment and implementation of a uniform national livestock identification program that encompasses all livestock raised and marketed in the United States.

* The adoption of the United States Animal Identification Program, recognized as USAIP, as drafted by the National Identification Development Team and the passage of legislation to enable the program.

* The USAIP shall be the sole ID program utilized by the USDA for tracking animal health events.

* Information obtained in the program should be held in the strictest of confidence to assure producers’, processors’, retailers’, and distributors’ right to privacy.

* The USDA should continue to pursue governmental funding to establish and maintain the administration of the program so that the program is not cost prohibitive to production, processing, distributing, or retailing entities regardless of size.

* The USAIP should not be allowed to significantly impede commerce.

Showing support. Several weeks later the board of the Ohio Dairy Producers also agreed unanimously to sign on in support of the ODIF resolution and the USAIP. They agreed, as stated in the ODIF resolution, that it is imperative that the program not be cost prohibitive to producers and does not adversely affect market activities.

Connie Finton, a DFA and ODP board member as well as ODIF’s chair, serves as a representative on the Dairy Species Subcommittee of the national identification development team.

“We need an effective ID program. Otherwise it is virtually impossible to trace an animal’s origin or to identify other livestock that have been in contact with that animal”, she said.

“It is imperative that one single program be supported and adopted by the industry.”

High stakes. The stakes are too high and the consequences too great if a consensus is not reached and a cost affective and unilateral animal identification plan is not implemented. It could save millions of dollars in retained and secured markets.

Finton said the issues surrounding animal identification are complex, but is confident that beef, dairy, and other livestock producers can work it out and develop a comprehensive program.

“We’re all in this together. Animal identification will affect the way we all do business. The dairy industry is absolutely committed to working closely with the beef and other livestock industries on regional and national levels to face the challenges and devise a program that our farmers and ranchers can afford to live with,” she said.

Learn more. Go to http://putnam.osu.edu/ag/ODIF.html to get additional information on the ODIF and this resolution.

(The author is an OSU Extension associate with the dairy industry enhancement program. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

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