The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation held its 90th annual meeting Dec. 3-5. What a great achievement.
There were several excellent speakers discussing timely topics, One of these speakers was Ohio Agriculture Director Robert J. Boggs, who commented on the reduction of federal funding to the states for disease control.
I believe with federal funding being cut to the states for disease control, livestock producers should do whatever they can to help themselves. Premise identification is one way to do this.
One of the policy proposals presented at the annual meeting was: “In order to be competitive in the world marketplace and to ensure the safety of our food supply, Ohio Farm Bureau encourages all livestock producers to register their premises,” but the proposal was voted down.
The two greatest fears livestock farmers face are fire and disease. Think of all the time and money that is spent trying to prevent fires. Premise ID is a proven way to prevent the spread of livestock diseases and it costs absolutely nothing.
Premise ID and animal ID have been required in the United Kingdom since 2001. It is also required in all 25 European Union countries plus many other foreign countries. Canada, our neighbor to the north also requires it. And, since March 1, 2007, Michigan has required Premise ID and Animal ID. In 200B, Illinois required premise ID’s for all state, county, 4-H, FFA exhibitors at shows and fairs. North Carolina also requires premise ID for all state fair exhibitors, and Indiana is requiring it for all dairy herds on test.
Why is Ohio so afraid of a premise identification program?
The purpose of the program is to be able to trace a disease outbreak as soon as possible. Think how long it took the United States to trace the cow that was discovered with BSE in Washington in 2003, and also think of the drastic effect it had on beef prices and the cattle market in general.
The ID programs are in place and working well in many countries and within several states in the U.S. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to put it into action in Ohio.
This program is not just about beef and slaughtered animals going into the food chain. In the dairy industry, many dairies have heifers raised by custom heifer growers, These custom growers can have heifers from several different herds at one time. Shortly before calving, these heifers will go back to their original herds. Think what a disease outbreak in a facility like this would mean without having traceability of animals.
Today, you can go into any drug store or grocery store selling prepackaged items and these items will all have a code on them that can be traced back to the manufacturer and all the stores that received the product. We need that same traceability in the livestock industry today.
We should take pride in the products we produce and be able to ensure the safety in our food to consumers in the global marketplace. Premise identification is a way to make that happened.