Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns unveiled a thinking paper and timeline on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and called on agriculture producers, leaders, and industry partners to provide feedback.  Both documents are available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's NAIS Web site at and will be published in the Federal Register.

"The documents we're releasing today offer a draft plan to move the public discussion forward on this important initiative," said Johanns. "We created these documents with guidance from NAIS advisory committee and with a great deal of input from producers. We're proposing answers to some of the key questions about how we envision this system moving forward. Now, I'm eager to hear from farmers and ranchers so we can develop a final plan."

A comprehensive description of system standards will be determined over time through field trials, user experience and the federal rulemaking process. These documents lay out in more detail projected timelines and potential avenues to achieve system milestones. For example, these documents propose requiring stakeholders to identify premises and animals according to NAIS standards by January 2008.  Requiring full recording of defined animal movements is proposed by January 2009.

The Federal Register notice acknowledges the outstanding concerns of some stakeholders and frames questions for which USDA will be seeking answers as it moves forward with NAIS.  These questions pertain to funding for the system, confidentiality of data in the system and flexibility of the system, among other things.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before June 6, 2005. Send an original and three copies of postal or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. 050-15-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.  If you wish to submit a comment using the Internet, an easy link to NAIS docket and comment form will be available on NAIS homepage at

Once USDA receives feedback on the documents, it will follow the normal rulemaking process before any aspects of NAIS become mandatory.  The public will have the opportunity to submit additional comments on any proposed regulations.

Comments are posted on the EDOCKET Web site and may also be viewed at USDA, Room 1141 South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.  To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.

Administered by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, NAIS is a cooperative state-federal-industry program being created to track animal movements from birth to death for the purpose of disease tracking. It will be established over time through the integration of three key components: premises identification, animal identification and animal tracking.

State and federal animal health officials will be able to manage disease surveillance and control programs more effectively and efficiently as animal identification and location records are collected through NAIS. They will also be able to implement electronic intra- and interstate animal movement permitting rapid respond to potential disease outbreaks.

Eventually, NAIS will allow animal health officials to identify all animals and premises that have had contact with a foreign or domestic animal disease of concern within 48 hours of an initial presumptive-positive diagnosis.  As an information system that provides for rapid tracing of infected and exposed animals during an outbreak situation, NAIS will help limit the scope of such outbreaks and ensure that they are contained as quickly as possible.

NAIS is designed to encompass the tracking of all animal species that could directly or indirectly impact the animal health status of our nation's food animal system.  Currently, species working groups have been established for beef and dairy cattle, bison, camelids, cervids, equine, goats, poultry, sheep and swine.

APHIS received approximately $33 million for NAIS implementation in fiscal year  2005 through the Consolidated Appropriations Act. USDA also transferred $18.8 million from its Commodity Credit Corporation to APHIS in FY 2004 to support the program.