With 45 states that have already instituted premises ID programs, USDA says it’s ready to roll out the next phase of the voluntary National Animal Identification System — individual animal ID.

Officials plan to roll out this portion of the national system in August. It’s key functions are to:

  • Administer approved official animal identification number (AIN) tag manufacturers.
  • Assign AIN tag product codes to each approved device.
  • Administer the allocation of AINs to tag manufacturers.
  • Administer authorized AIN tag managers/resellers.
  • Receive and maintain the distribution records of all AIN tags
  • Provide information on AIN tags.

“It’s not a complete system yet, but it is adequate to begin this step,” says Neil Hammerschmidt, NAIS coordinator. “We have developed the basic requirements, which will be increased over time.” Therefore, this summer producers may contact an AIN manager in their area to obtain AINs on a voluntary basis.

AIN tag managers include:

  • Private companies and service providers.
  • States, tribes or AVIC offices.
  • Breed registries, national DHIA.
  • Veterinarians.
  • AIN tag manufacturers.

These entities have a marketing agreement with an approved AIN tag manufacturer, agree to validate the premises number of tag recipients and report the distribution of AINs to the National Animal Records Repository (which is still in development).

AINs will be issued to the premises and linked to the animals in a way that is appropriate for the species.

For example, cattle producers will probably prefer to use ear tags on their animals. The U.S. Animal Identification Program Cattle Working Group has recommended the use of radio frequency ID (RFID) that is ISO 11784 and ISO 11785 compliant. Keep in mind that these ISO standards are only a starting point, and may change as technology evolves.

These tags must be tamper-resistant and designed for one-time-only use. Also, the AIN and U.S. shield must be imprinted on the tag and the printing on the tag must be easily readable for the life of the tag.

AIN tags will also be available through tag resellers, tag distributors and eventually, through retail outlets.

Additional details will be available in the coming weeks. The Web site: www.usda.gov/nais will soon list approved AIN tag manufacturers and AIN tag providers along with product descriptions and contact information.

USDA, Dairy Herd Management magazine