Pork industry gets $400,000 boost from USDA for animal ID efforts

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SALEM, Ohio – Even with 40 percent of swine production premises already registered under the National Animal Identification System, the pork industry isn’t slowing.
In fact, pork industry leaders are using a $400,000 boost from USDA toward the goal of having 100 percent of premises identified by the end of this year.
The cooperative agreement between USDA and the National Pork Board is the first such agreement to be signed between USDA and a livestock industry organization in support of the NAIS.
Priority. The goal, according to National Pork Producers Council president Joy Philippi, is “totally possible” because most pork producers see the value of a system that offers traceback and can pinpoint locations of animals in case of a disease outbreak.
“Simply stated, NAIS is about maintaining the national herd health and ensuring that we can quickly control and recover from disease outbreaks,” said Philippi, a producer from Bruning, Neb.
“Getting each producer’s premises registered and entering the premises number in each state’s database is the only way to create an effective and functional NAIS.”
Mandatory? The National Pork Producers Council’s standpoint is that mandatory identification is necessary to protect the swine herd from disease or agriterrorism, according to Philippi.
That meshed with the USDA standpoint, too, until a December announcement that the identification system would be completely voluntary at the federal level.
Philippi said the pork industry isn’t at war with USDA over the mandates, and thinks the swine industry can be a leadership example to other livestock species groups.
Enhanced. To keep the ball rolling, NPPC and the Pork Board formed an identification implementation task force made up of producers and other industry stakeholders.
The task force’s goal was to enhance the existing swine ID system, which was set up in 1988 and used successfully to eradicate pseudorabies from the commercial herd. As of March 2006, every U.S. state was pseudorabies-free, according to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
In the coming weeks, the National Pork Board will be hiring three regional swine identification coordinators. The coordinators will work with state pork producer associations and state ID coordinators to encourage producers in each state to register their premises.
“This puts more boots on the ground to get producers signed up,” said National Pork Board director of swine health programs Patrick Webb.
“We found that when you sit down face to face with producers and explain this, they look at you and say, ‘That’s really simple, sign me up.’ If we provide the opportunity, they will sign up,” Webb said.
Room to grow. Ohio has 3,900 hog operations, according to 2005 data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Gary Wilson says 14 percent of those premises are already identified.
In Pennsylvania, there are 3,200 operations, according to NASS. The number of premises registered was not available as of presstime.
Easy. The sign-up process is simple, Webb said. Information that will be gathered includes site location, a contact person who can be reached in case of an emergency, and a listing of what types of animals are housed there.
It’s the same type of information gathered for permits, or information that can be found online, Webb said.
“We’re not getting secret information,” he assured.
Funds. The $400,000 fund is earmarked to support the coordinators in getting the word out. The money will be used for materials and educational meetings on premises registration, Webb said.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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