Speaking with reporters at the International Food Aid Conference this week in Kansas City, Mo., Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he plans to hold discussions with groups opposed to a mandatory ID system but also said “the bottom line is we have got to have a system that works.”

According to an Associated Press article, Vilsack addressed the conference about the need for international food aid and the agency’s commitment to ship agricultural commodities to needy countries. In an interview with reporters, he touched on the issue of the National Animal Identification System, saying the agency is anxious to listen and learn and will try to be creative in trying to respond. Several members of Congress are pushing for a mandatory ID system. For the full article, click here.

The idea of a mandatory national ID system has met stiff resistance from agricultural groups both large and small. It will be a tough sell in Congress and out in the country. Political pressures are mounting, however, for traceability throughout the food system. Originally conceived as an animal-health program for early intervention in disease outbreaks, politicians increasingly link NAIS with the broader issues of food safety and consumer protection, which the Obama administration repeatedly cites as high priorities. Stay tuned. — John Maday, Drovers managing editor.