Required Premises Registration in Texas Postponed

Commissioners for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state's livestock and poultry health regulatory agency, met on Feb. 16 and postponed taking action on proposed regulations that would require identification of physical locations where livestock (including horses), exotic livestock, domestic fowl, and exotic fowl are held, managed, or handled.

Bob Hillman, DVM, Texas state veterinarian and TAHC executive director, explained that postponing action on the proposed rule that would make premises registration in Texas compulsory on July 1 does not mean that the issue has been resolved. TAHC commissioners will reconsider the proposed rule at a meeting to be held on March 23. The meeting will be at 8 a.m. in the Marriott North Hotel at 2600 La Frontera Blvd. in Round Rock, Texas, and it will be open to the public.

"Although commission action on the proposed regulations has been postponed, we continue to encourage voluntary premises registration, which, as of today (Feb. 17), includes more than 7,000 of the state's 200,000 or more farms, ranches, or other facilities," said Hillman.

Premises registration is the foundation for the three-tiered National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which, when fully implemented, is designed to enable animal health officials to trace the movement of diseased or exposed livestock or poultry within 48 hours. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has spearheaded NAIS development since 2004, with the cooperation of national species working group committees.

In Texas, HB 1361, passed and signed into law in 2005, authorized the TAHC to institute an animal identification program consistent with the NAIS, and to collect fees to offset some costs of agency operations.

Hillman said more than 600 people submitted comments on the proposed premises registration rule during the comment period that ended in February. Nearly 80 individuals shared their concerns about the rule with officials at the Feb. 16 commission meeting.

"Although the TAHC commissioners recognize the need for an improved animal identification system, they need additional time to consider complaints regarding the $10 per year fee, concerns about livestock and poultry identification and reporting requirements that, eventually, may be implemented on a national basis; and fears about the potential loss of privacy," said Hillman.

He explained that premises registration, the only aspect of the NAIS currently under consideration in Texas, involves providing the TAHC with a contact name, phone number, physical address, and the species (but not the number of animals) housed, managed, or handled on a site, such as a farm, veterinary clinic, arena, or livestock market. Information is kept confidential. A unique seven-character premises identification number (PIN) then is issued for the site.

All states have begun implementation of premises registration. Premises registration is voluntary in most states, although some will be mandatory in the near future. About 200,000 premises in the United States now are identified.

"National working groups for each involved species are developing recommendations for the second and third tiers of the NAIS, which, depending on the situation, will involve identifying either individual animals, or groups of animals, leaving their premises of origin or moving in commerce," said Hillman. "The third tier will involve animal movement reporting and tracking, making it possible to locate diseased or exposed animals quickly."

For more information visit the TAHC web site,

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