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The following appeared on the chevontalk@yahoogroups.com on 1/29/06:


USDA backs off on centralized database and mandatory ID
Tam Moore, Capital Press Staff Writer

DENVER - There won’t be a mandatory U.S. animal identification program by 2009, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has dropped a 6-month-old plan for contracting with a privatized central database to launch the cattle segment of ID.

That’s the message Neil Hammerschmidt, the USDA’s National Animal Identification System coordinator, brought last week to Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America.

“We won on ID,” R-CALF President Chuck Kiker said after listening to Hammerschmidt’s presentation Jan. 20. R-CALF and other ID critics questioned the USDA’s intention to concentrate the data with a system the rival National Cattlemen’s Beef Association organized, then spun off as a free-standing nonprofit organization.

The U.S. Animal Identification Organization, a consortium pushed by the NCBA, formed Jan. 10. Apparently, it won’t handle all of the ID action that promises to unfold in coming years.

Instead of a single database, Hammerschmidt said, USDA, state and tribal animal health agencies will use multiple databases, relying on those who contract with the USDA to furnish livestock tracking information.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns had announced the single privatized concept in July 2005.

Hammerschmidt said it wasn’t just protests from R-CALF that sank it. A variety of state animal health laws make it certain that several state veterinarians would have to keep databases regardless of the federal policy.

“Our preference is a centralized system. It is probably the most efficient, probably the least costly,” Hammerschmidt said. “However, it has been made clear to us that achieving one central database is not in the cards. We will interface with multiple databases, both in the private sector and with the states.”



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