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Opinion: Members should have supported Premise ID policy
Buckeye Farm News
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation held its 90th annual meeting in December. What a great achievement. There was a large turnout of enthusiastic officers, trustees, delegates and visitors plus a number of excellent speakers discussing very timely topics.
One of these speakers was Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert J. Boggs. He addressed many things in his presentation, one of which was the national economy and the reduction of federal funding that will be coming back to the states for disease control.
I believe that with this cut in funding, the livestock industry should do whatever it can to help itself. Premise identification is one way to do this.
One of the policy proposals presented at the annual meeting was “In order to be competitive in the world market place and to ensure the safety of our food supply, Ohio Farm Bureau encourages all livestock producers to register their premises.” But the proposal was voted down.
I think the two greatest fears livestock farmers face are fire and disease. Think of all the time and money that is spent on trying to prevent fires. Premise ID is a proven way to prevent livestock diseases, and it costs absolutely nothing.
Premise ID and Animal ID has been required in the United Kingdom since 2001. It is also required in all 25 European Union Countries plus many other foreign countries, including Cananda. Michigan has required Premise ID and Animal ID.
The purpose of the program is to be able to trace a disease outbreak as soon as possible. Think how long it took the United States to trace the cow that was discovered with BSE in Washington in 2003 and also think of the drastic effect it had on beef prices and the cattle market in general.
Remember no disease was ever eradicated by voluntary
The ID programs are in place and working well in many countries and within several states. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to put it into action in Ohio.
This program is not just about beef and slaughtered animals going into the food chain. Today, many large dairies have their heifers raised by custom growers. These custom growers can have heifers from several different herds at one time. Shortly before calving, these heifers will go back to their original herds. Think what a disease outbreak in a facility like this would mean without having traceability of the animals they had been in contact with.
Today, you can go into any drug store or grocery store selling prepackaged items and these items will all have a code that can be traced back to the manufacturer and all stores to which the product went.
We need that same traceability in the livestock industry today. We should take pride in the products we produce and
be able to ensure the safety of our food to consumers in the global marketplace. Premise identification is a way to make that happen.
~ Bill McKarns, Columbiana County