Equine Working Group Provides Views to USDA

The Equine Species Working Group (ESWG) said it supports the approach the USDA is taking to organize a national animal ID system to deal with animal diseases and their effects. But, the group cautioned, the horse industry has unique issues and concerns that must be considered.

The ESWG includes representatives from more than 30 equine associations, state veterinarians, and others involved in the horse industry. It has been evaluating the national animal ID plan, its benefits and costs to the horse industry, and how the industry might develop a system for equine ID that would fit into the national plan.

In July, USDA asked for comments on its approach to the much-discussed National Animal Identification System. Specifically, it sought suggestions on a timetable, whether the system should be voluntary or mandatory, and to which species it should apply. USDA will review all the responses and propose any new federal rules needed to implement a national ID program.

The ESWG comments emphasized a very important concern to the horse industry--the confidentiality of any data collected and the access to such data. Without confidence that it is secure and accessibility well-controlled, the industry can't support a national animal ID system.

For more information on the ESWG comments, the national animal ID system, and the horse industry's involvement, see www.TheHorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=2042 or the American Horse Council web site: www.horsecouncil.org.

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