Nebraska has joined a number of other states implementing a premises identification program in compliance with the National Animal Identification System. Last Thursday, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture officially opened the premises identification portion of its Nebraska Animal Verification Enhancement  system. Producers, market operators and others with livestock facilities can register their premises over the Internet, or can call to receive registration forms through the mail.

Premises registration in Nebraska remains voluntary, but state officials encourage participation. "The registration of locations where animals are kept is the first step toward establishing a complete individual animal identification system,” says NDA Assistant Director Greg Ibach. “Such a system will assist officials in tracing livestock and other food animals in the event of a disease outbreak."

Mr. Ibach, who owns a cow/calf operation near Sumner, was the first Nebraska producer to register his premises on the NAVE system. Also registering their operations today were Allen Bright, a feedlot operator from Antioch and President of the Nebraska Cattlemen; and Dave Hansen, a swine producer from Hartington and President of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

USDA has reviewed the premises part of the NAVE system and found it in compliance with national data standards. The compliance designation is important, Mr. Ibach says, because it means the State can begin taking premises registrations with confidence that the information will be acceptable to USDA.

The premises registration system can be accessed by Internet at System prompts will take those registering through a five-step process. Once complete, the information is electronically forwarded to NDA, where its authenticity will be verified. NDA has developed a protocol for this verification step, Mr. Ibach says. "This is an extra step that goes above and beyond USDA requirements to provide system quality control. Once we receive verification of the information, it is forwarded to USDA and a premises identification number is assigned. The registrant will receive notification of their premises number via either e-mail, mail or telephone.

"We have designed the system to be user-friendly, but the extra checks will help ensure that those registering are providing valid information," Mr. Ibach says. "We want to have a credible, valuable system that is easy to use."

There is an option on the web page to download the form for completion and mailing. Those who want to register, but do not have Internet access, can call NDA to receive the registration paperwork. The number is 800-572-2437.

Those who have questions as they work through the registration process are asked to call the Department. "We feel that we have a good system and have tested it numerous times, but there may still be some bugs to work out as we go along," Mr. Ibach says. "We are hopeful that those registering will help us identify and answer any questions that surface to make the system better for everyone."

Anyone who handles food animals is encouraged to register their premises. "Cattle, hogs, sheep and chickens are food animals," Ibach says, "but so are other species that are raised for meat, such as goat, elk and ostrich. All handlers of these types of animals can register under our system."

Premises can mean anywhere food animals are kept, Mr. Ibach says, including veterinarian clinics and tagging sites. Anyone with questions about the NAVE premises registration system should contact NDA at 800-572-2437.