USDA officials want to ID animals to quickly contain disease

    Federal agricultural officials are looking for a better way to identify and track sick livestock.

    Federal agricultural officials are looking for a better way to identify and track sick livestock.
    (Photo courtesy Iowa State University)

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is planning a state-by-state system to track livestock that travel across state lines. Farm officials say the system will make it easier to link a disease outbreak to a particular animal group or location.

    Ed Wengryn is with the New Jersey Farm Bureau.

    Wengryn: People who import animals and export understand the risk to their business from diseases coming in and out. So they understand it better so they are much more receptive to doing this kind of program.

    Wengryn says farmers were suspicious of an earlier, volunteer program.

    He says some worried about the privacy of their business information and how the tracking information would be used by the government.

    In Pennsylvania, a farm bureau spokesman says the system would protect public health, so Commonwealth farmers want the government to pay for some of the new equipment costs.

    Wengryn: The idea is that the government won’t want to know every time the animal is moved, but they will want to know if there is a disease outbreak, which animals were there and that’s when they’ll seek the records

    The U.S.D.A. is holding public hearings on the issue throughout August.

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