The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is proposing a national animal identification system that the association claims would enhance animal health surveillance and give the agriculture industry oversight for the system.

“The proposal gives cattlemen one more tool to control their own destinies,” said Allen Bright, cattle producer from Ellsworth, Neb., and chairman of NCBA Animal ID Commission. “It would provide a reasonable timeline for creating a private system and go a long way toward resolving concerns about confidentiality.”

NCBA approved the plan Feb. 5 at the Cattle Industry Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas. It must still be approved in the coming weeks by members voting by mail ballots.

Key to the proposal would be a multi-species ID service and data base – including cattle, swine and sheep – that would allow USDA and state veterinarian disease surveillance access. Oversight would be provided by livestock industry representatives.

The plan would provide a number of avenues for producer participation, directly or through a service provider or data trustee. It would be designed to protect the privacy of producers and be flexible to accommodate differences in production methods.

Additionally, NCBA will seek financial incentives, including a tax credit, for participating industry segments, and eventual coordination with international ID systems to prevent disruption of trade.

“NCBA members have long recognized the need for an effective animal ID system and have expressed the desire to be intimately involved in the creation and management of such a system,” said Bright. “Cattlemen have been involved in efforts to create a national system for years, and we’re getting closer to implementation of a producer-led system.”