Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack distributed an editorial this week calling for open dialog on the National Animal Identification System:
Members of the Agriculture Family:
In these times of economic uncertainty, we must do everything in our power to help ensure that any animal disease events that do happen are contained effectively so things can go back to business as usual — as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is through animal disease traceability. While there are costs associated with a traceability system, these costs are far less than the costs of dealing with a major disease outbreak like foot-and-mouth disease without the tools animal health officials need. The
Much work has been done over the past five years to engage farmers in developing a national system they could support. However, many of the original concerns that were raised — such as cost, impact on small farmers, privacy/confidentiality and liability — continue to cause debate. In order to provide the level of animal disease traceability we need in the
Today, I am asking farmers and stakeholders to engage with USDA in a more productive dialogue about NAIS. Now is the time to have frank and open conversations. We need to work collaboratively to resolve concerns and move forward with animal disease traceability. The dialogue brings two goals to mind: 1) sharing accurate information about the current program, and 2) discussing how to work together to resolve or reduce issues of concern while creating a system which farmers can support.
The main issues of concern are well documented, so I am specifically seeking your ideas or suggestions on how to resolve these concerns, as well as any new concerns you have.
To facilitate the dialogue, USDA has launched a feedback page on the NAIS Web site. Producers and stakeholders are encouraged to visit www.usda.gov/nais/feedback.shtml to provide their suggestions and comments. We are also in the process of scheduling a series of public dialogue sessions throughout the country. We will keep you updated as details for the sessions are finalized.
I encourage your participation in this process. The information and ideas you provide will assist me in making decisions about the future direction of animal disease traceability in the
Secretary of Agriculture