With the air thick with myths, speculations and facts regarding a U.S. national animal identification program, the ID INFO EXPO 2009, Aug. 25-27, Kansas City, Mo., provides the ideal platform to have an in-depth discussion. Sponsored by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, the expo's opening general session will feature candid speakers from federal and state governments, agriculture and the food industry. Following that will be three sessions devoted to obstacles, opportunities and next steps.   

“The expo, now in its eighth year, provides a unique national forum where all livestock stakeholders can convene to discuss the issues surrounding the implementation of a U.S. national animal identification system,” says Glenn Fischer, ID INFO EXPO planning committee chairman. The opening session will present experts who will deliver their perspectives regarding the current state of animal identification in the United States, animal-ID needs in Homeland Security, the state’s role and the need for food traceability at home and in foreign markets, he adds.

The eight speakers confirmed for the opening session include John Clifford, chief veterinary medical officer, USDA; Douglas Meckes and Tom McGinn, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Gene Hugoson, Minnesota Department of Agriculture; William Hartmann, Minnesota Board of Animal Health; David Acheson, Leavitt Partners; Paul Clayton, U.S. Meat Export Federation; and Rob Cannell, McDonald’s Corporation.

“We’re getting some very high-profile individuals in one room at the same time, and it will be interesting to hear their points of view about a topic that is astir in animal agriculture,” Fischer says.

The conference’s Wednesday sessions and Thursday morning session will be equally enlightening.   

Wednesday’s speakers will look at cost to producers, technology challenges and producer concerns with confidentiality of information, as well as the economics and market-access opportunities associated with ID. Additional Wednesday topics include how incentives can be a part of participation in animal-ID programs, using premises ID in animal-health management, and producer challenges and opportunities.

Thursday will focus on producer and consumer benefits related to a functional identification system. Five speakers will address producer and consumer benefits from a functional identification system that will meet the needs of animal-health officials and traceability requirements of management and marketing systems. Speakers include Guy Blissett with IBM Corporation; Ryan Meyer, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef; and Kevin Bost, Procurement Strategies.

“At the conclusion of the conference, our goal is to have listened and learned so we in animal agriculture can identify solutions that will help advance a system that is animal-health driven, moves toward 48-hour traceability and helps preserve the profitability of our animal agriculture industry,” Fischer states.

The expo begins Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m. and concludes Thursday afternoon, Aug. 27, at 12 p.m. at the Westin Crown Center, Kansas City, Mo. A trade show will feature companies with the latest identification and information systems technology, and provide an opportunity to learn and network.

A pre-conference Food Traceability Workshop, Aug. 24-25, is part of a workshop series sponsored by Interwork Media. The Food Traceability Workshop is designed for agriculture, produce and meat manufacturers, distributors and retailers, and will provide basic and realistic information about people, process and technology needed to implement a food traceability program. The workshop starts on Monday, Aug. 24, at 1 p.m. and concludes at 12:45 p.m. on the 25th.

ID INFO EXPO registration is $425, with NIAA members receiving at $50 discount. Complete conference information and online registration is available at www.animalagriculture.org or individuals can call NIAA at (719) 538-8843.

 Source: National Institute for Animal Agriculture