Policy & Politics

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Animal Disease Traceability (national policy)

Published May. 30, 2012

Issue: Foreign animal disease outbreaks have the potential to create massive financial losses in the livestock sector through loss of access to foreign markets, a decline in meat demand by domestic consumers, and direct production losses (death loss and morbidity). Disease outbreaks also put export markets at risk, as was amply demonstrated by the 2003 Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) event. Meat exports have increasingly become a key component of meat demand. In fact, the major US meat sectors have never been more export-dependent than they are now. USDA estimates that for 2012, beef exports will amount to almost 11 percent of production, a record level. Pork exports in 2012 are projected to amount to almost 23 percent of production, up from less than 10 percent a decade ago. The loss of this component of demand in the event of a disease outbreak would be devastating. It is worth noting, too, that virtually all of our major meat export market competitors (e.g. Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and Uruguay) have implemented a traceability program; the United States has not.

Background: In 2004, following the first US case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the federal government proposed the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The goal of this system was to provide complete trace-back within 48 hours of an animal disease outbreak. The program would have provided an unique premise ID number to any farm in the country containing livestock. The program would have been administered at the federal level.



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