Equine ID Topics Info Expo

Bobby Smith of Middleburg, Va., was not alone when he said he was confused about equine identification. That's why he came to the National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA) ID/Info Expo in Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 22-24.

"We are very excited with final results of the ID Info Expo," said R. Scott Stuart, NIAA chairman of the board. "We set a record of more than 550 interested participants representing a broad and diverse base."

He said participants included those from state and federal agencies, animal health groups, academia, marketing and processing organizations, as well as individual producers.

The Expo served as a platform to discuss the new National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which is aimed at being able to track individual animals in the event of a disease outbreak.

Interactive program topics included an NAIS primer, International Standards Organization (ISO) standards, species working group reports, USDA databases, state pilot project reports, current technologies, solutions, and practical applications.

In the general session, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns assured attendees he was listening to the controversial issues surrounding animal ID. He supports a system that is cost-effective and driven by the private sector.

Stuart said results of a survey taken at the Expo show 78% of respondents support a mandatory program, but 72% percent feel that full implementation of NAIS will not occur. While the most basic concerns have been related to cost, confidentiality, and data collection, the survey revealed that the number one issue slowing down NAIS was political posturing; a jockeying for position instead of working to create a system that will work for all involved.

Using veterinarians to serve as facilitators to educate and encourage producer sign-up was the second-most-suggested option to improve NAIS implementation.

"We need to think globally, but act locally in our own environment and in our own states to develop what will work instead of thinking 10 years ahead," said Stuart. "NAIS is a tool for animal health. Whatever form it finally takes, it is something we must have. NIAA encourages all stakeholders--for or against--to continue to work on issues with a sense of purpose and attitude of compromise in order to make it as effective and non-intrusive as possible."

"There is a high level of frustration out there among the various species groups," Stuart added. "Quite a few have been working for the last several years to help bring about a national ID system. It seems we have reached a plateau in the last six months where tangible results have not yet been forthcoming. Out of that plateau there will be a regeneration as a lot of questions have been answered and more structure is taking shape."

For more information on NIAA and the survey, visit www.animalagriculture.org.

About the Author

J. Amelita Facchiano

J. Amelita Facchiano has a passion for equine health, welfare, and identification. She chairs the U.S. Animal Health Association Animal Welfare Committee, and she serves on infectious diseases and ID committees for USAHA, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and National Institute of Animal Agriculture. In addition, Facchiano chairs the Equine Species Working Group ID committee. She also wrote Horse Theft Prevention Handbook, available at www.exclusivelyequine.com.

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