The Department of Agriculture said they heard substantial support for animal disease traceability during a series of public meetings held recently but many animal owners indicated concerns. Cost, privacy, bureaucracy, liability in the event of a disease outbreak, and the religious implications of such animal identification are behind ongoing opposition to the department's National Animal Identification System (NAIS).
The USDA has not encouraged enough food animal producers to participate in the NAIS to achieve the desired animal tracing ability, and members of Congress have expressed frustration over funding the program, stated Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
"I know there are very strong feelings on all sides of this issue, but I don't want us to get to the point where Congress says they will not continue to fund the system," Vilsack said. "If that were to happen, I would doubt the reliability of our market, and that's not where we want to be."
Vilsack said the USDA needs to hear from and accommodate people with concerns about how a disease tracing system would be administered. He said the US needs such a system to market its livestock as the "highest quality and best in the world."