Though NAIS has apparently become road-kill on history's highway, there's no question the market is paying for verification of certain practices and product attributes that must be substantiated via individual animal ID.

For example, it seems everyone is chattering about source and age verification, and more recently Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) for the European Union.

Premiums for age -- specifically for cattle 20 months of age and younger and eligible for export to Japan -- have been running $3-$4/cwt. on feeders and $2-$3/cwt. on fed cattle, according to Bill Mies, eMerge Interactive vice president of national accounts.

That's when premiums are available, though. According to Mark Spire, Schering-Plough Animal Health bovine technical services manager, sources for age premiums are dwindling. He explains packers are typically able to meet still-paltry Japanese demand by pulling from their regular purchases.

Both of the gentlemen visited with BEEF recently about the differences and similarities between Quality Systems Assessment programs (QSAs) and Process Verified Programs (PVPs). Both are USDA programs used to verify source, age and other cattle attributes.

"The biggest misunderstanding in the country, and I think one that has slowed adoption of source and age verification, is some mistakenly think these are steps in a national animal ID program," explains Mies. "They're amazed to discover these (QSAs and PVPs) are private-industry programs aimed at getting them more money for their cattle."

Spire emphasizes there are lots of folks, including government officials, who continue to wrap NAIS -- and its purpose for national animal disease surveillance and animal health monitoring -- with animal ID needed for market-driven programs such as QSA and PVP. "This confusion has delayed the widespread adoption of both types of USDA programs," he says.

You can explore QSA's and PVPs in more detail in the upcoming December issue of BEEF. The next issue of BEEF Stocker Trends will also provide more info about these programs.