USDA reports success with animal ID system pilots
The U.S. Department of Agriculture published results of its 2004 pilot projects to test technologies and procedures recommended for use with the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).
“Many of the projects tested the system in real-time scenarios, integrating animal identification and movement reporting into everyday commerce,” the USDA said in a May 4 statement. “The results provide valuable information about the day-to-day use of animal identification and tracing technology.”
The USDA launched the tests shortly after reporting a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow” disease, in a Washington state cow in late December 2003. The case resulted in most countries closing their borders to U.S. beef shipments. Some of the U.S. beef industry’s most valuable overseas markets, namely in Asia, have only recently lifted their bans.
The key lessons from the NAIS tests include:
* The retention rate of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags is much higher than anticipated.
* Existing animal health and marketing programs can be an effective, producer-friendly means of collecting data for NAIS.
* Workable options are available to producers who want to identify their livestock electronically without investing in reader equipment.
* The use of electronic identification allows for more accurate and efficient record keeping.
* The use of RFID at auction markets can improve animal welfare and human safety.
* Identification used for NAIS can support other programs.
USDA provided about $6.5 million in Commodity Credit Corp. funds for the projects in 2004.
“These initial 16 projects represent the first stage of the NAIS pilot project program,” the USDA said. “The program supports the states and tribes in carrying out research and field trials that resolve questions and concerns about NAIS processes, technologies and costs.”
The department has several other field trial projects supported by fiscal 2005 funds. These projects are underway to provide more statistical comparisons of technologies and more clearly define implementation costs for NAIS, the USDA said.