Veterinary leader addresses USDA’s shift on animal ID

Drovers news source   |  Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A recent decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to scrap a national animal identification system could seriously hinder U.S. veterinarians’ ability to track diseased animals and prevent the spread of those diseases — diseases that could spread to humans and cost U.S. farmers millions of dollars.

That’s the message that Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and a former head of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, delivers in a new video which can be viewed on AVMA’s Web site and YouTube. “I have a number of concerns,” Dr. DeHaven says in the video.

Last month, the USDA announced that it was going to scrap the eight years of work and $120 million it poured into creation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Instead, the USDA announced it will restart the process and begin developing a new state-based animal identification system.

“By having an animal ID program in place, we can more quickly contain and eliminate disease. Doing so not only minimizes the economic impact, but by minimizing the number of animals affected, we reduce animal suffering,” Dr. DeHaven says in the video. “In the case of zoonotic diseases — diseases that can spread from animals to humans – we reduce the potential that the disease will spread to humans.”

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