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USDA continues development of national ID plan

During last week’s National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s annual conference in Denver, Neil Hammerschmidt, program manager of animal identification at USDA/APHIS Veterinary Services, provided an update on the agency’s Framework for Animal Disease Traceability.

USDA currently is reviewing thousands of public comments, and probably won’t issue the final rule until later this year, so Hammerschmidt was unable to address some specific details. He did, however, outline some of the program standards and options.

Acknowledging that cost of compliance has been a source of contention with previous plans, Hammerschmidt says the current framework intends to minimize producer costs and reporting requirements.

A primary goal of the program is to streamline the process of tracing animals to their point of origin. Premises identification numbers (PIN) have been available to producers, on a voluntary basis in most cases, for several years. Some form of location identifier will presumably become mandatory with the final rule. USDA plans to offer states and tribes two options:

Premises Identification Numbers -- States and Tribes may elect to use the PIN in their traceability system. The standardized PIN, obtained through the APHIS PIN allocator, consists of seven alphanumeric characters. States have the option use the State’s postal abbreviation as the first two of the seven characters in the PIN, such as OH341T4 for an Ohio location. Tribes may also have codes reserved for use with PINs they administer.

Location Identification Numbers (LID) -- LIDs are administered through a State’s or Tribe’s internal system. Hammerschmidt says the LID system will require less information from the user, with producers needing to enter just their physical address. Other fields will be voluntary. The address associated with the LID will remain in the state database, with just the LID submitted to APHIS.

Official individual animal identification numbers (AIN), or “840 tags,” will be available through a variety of suppliers. They will include the official U.S. Shield and a 15-digit code beginning with the U.S. country code – 840. The tags will remain with each animal through slaughter. Packers will correlate the AIN with the carcass and associated products, and make the tags available to APHIS, and APHIS will “retire” the AIN from slaughtered animals.

Hammerschmidt says APHIS/VS will, for the next two years, collect data to establish a baseline of the system’s performance and capabilities, for evaluation of its progress in subsequent years.

The proposed rule and program standards are available online from USDA/APHIS.

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