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USDA Sets System to ID Diseased Animals

WASHINGTON, DC - The USDA has announced the framework for implementing a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) that is designed to identify any agricultural premise that has been exposed to a foreign animal disease so that it can be quickly contained and destroyed.

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said $18.8 million would be transferred from the USDA Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) to provide initial funding for the program during this fiscal year. Veneman said the CCF funding is earmarked for the initial infrastructure development and implementation of the national system, but private and public support will be required to make it fully operational. The Administration's proposed FY 2005 budget includes an additional $33 million for the effort.

""While many livestock species in the United States can be identified through a variety of systems, a verifiable system of national animal identification will enhance our efforts to respond to intentionally or unintentionally introduced animal disease outbreaks more quickly and effectively," Veneman said. "This framework is the result of concerted efforts to expedite the implementation of a system that meets our goals and enables farmers and ranchers to adapt existing identification programs and to use all existing forms of effective technologies."

The implementation of the system will be conducted in three main phases. Under Phase I, USDA would evaluate current federally funded animal identification systems and determine which system(s) should be used for a NAIS, further the dialogue with producers and other stakeholders on the operation of a NAIS, identify staffing needs, and develop any regulatory and legislative proposals needed for implementing the system.

Phase II would involve the implementation of the selected animal identification system at regional levels for one or more selected species, continuation of the communication and education effort, addressing regulatory needs and working with Congress on any needed legislation.

In Phase III, the selected animal identification system(s) would be scaled up to the national level.

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