[Jacob-list] National I D
Neal and Louise Grose
nlgrose at yadtel.net
Mon Oct 3 20:00:57 EDT 2005
I thought that some of you would appreciate the following post from an ag news service. I offer no guarantees on the validity of this article; but, it sounds consistent with what I have heard to date.
National ID Process Appears In Disarray
It's tough to slow down a stationary object, but USDA and the industry have apparently managed it where the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is concerned.
At the ID-Info Expo in Chicago last week, USDA clarified its expectations for the private-industry, NAIS database the agency announced it would allow on Aug. 30. You may remember that ever since USDA established NAIS in April 2004, its stated intent had been for a federal database. Besides ensuring access to the requisite information in the event of an animal health emergency, USDA said federal control would allow the leverage and interface with other government databases, such as those used for emergency response.
On the other side of the fence, some in the industry -- most notably the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) -- had remained adamant that a private database would offer more privacy protection for the data. Incidentally, there's still no definitive answer as to whether that will ultimately prove true.
But, for whatever reason, USDA bowed to producers who wanted a private database. What some proponents of the privatized system may not have anticipated, however, is that in assuming responsibility for building and maintaining this database -- over which USDA will still have oversight -- industry also assumes the total cost for an NAIS component that USDA appeared ready to pay for. It's akin to someone forcing you to spend your money to buy them a pickup to drive.
Furthermore, USDA officials emphasized last week that the private system must be developed and maintained by "a legal entity" representing all livestock species. According to John Clifford, Deputy Administrator for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Veterinary Services program, this entity must be able to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with USDA. He said USDA doesn't care if the organization is preexisting or newly minted, just so it fits the criteria and the industry decides it's the organization it wants to use.
The crux of this, besides letting USDA off the hook for financing, or at least sharing cost in this portion of the system, is the livestock industry must now figure out how to develop a new organization everyone agrees to, or identify and agree upon an existing organization that meets USDA's criteria.
Beginning last January, NCBA said it was spearheading the effort to organize a private livestock industry consortium to develop an NAIS database. At the meeting last week, Mike John, NCBA president-elect, intimated such a group was coming together. When asked for names of organizations joining NCBA in the process, though, he demurred.
Likewise, visiting with reps of other key livestock industry organizations, we've yet to find any who admit they've signed on to this or any other consortium. So, either folks are keeping their cards close, or they've none to play.
For the record, based on about 600 responses to USDA's request for public comment to its "Draft Program Standards" and "Draft Strategic Plan" issued in May, 54% of all responding producers supported a private database; 39% a federal one. Of cattle producers responding, 64% wanted a private system. If you consider producers and everyone else who responded, the majority supported a federal database (48%), while 36% wanted a private one.
In the meantime, there's still no definitive answer whether NAIS will be mandatory or voluntary. USDA has yet to issue program rules and standards. It's also yet to begin issuing NAIS numbers, as it had planned to do beginning in August. And, and...
One long-time, dogged advocate of national animal ID in the name of protecting the national herd was so downhearted by the turn of events at the Chicago meeting last week that he speculated NAIS progress had been set back at least a year.
In an effort to help unite the industry to figure out how to organize in order to build the database NAIS requires, USDA will host a public meeting Oct. 12 at the Radisson Hotel & Suites in Kansas City, MO., from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Learn more at: a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-18760.htm.
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