Troy Marshall's stated position in " 'Voluntary' ID Is An Idea Time Has Passed By," (May 12 BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly) is in favor of a mandatory ID for U.S. livestock, but a great share of the piece says the market will demand and pay for the info. Kind of blowing a big whole in your stated position, aren't you?

If the market wants source-verified livestock, it can readily obtain that livestock with some planning and paying the premium it will take for delivery. I don't understand why anyone would want a federal program to perform this market function. One can take a look at most any government program for discovery of waste and overkill, while coming up short of the objective. On the other hand, our market system performs very well in balancing the supply/demand equation.

The argument a mandatory ID program will make our livestock herds safe is dishonest as it does nothing to lessen risks. To pay the costs for an ID on each individual animal is silly-minded when the risk exposure can be attributed to less than 1% of the herd. I've yet to see an objective cost/benefit study showing an individual ID program is economically sustainable -- the benefits just aren't there, given the low level of risk exposure.

Mandatory ID would need to include the rest of our livestock species, I presume. Are the hog and chicken people on board? What about the exotics? And our pet population? The horse people? I trust we're not so narrow-minded to think this would be a mandatory program for cattle only!

The public owns a lot of livestock across the country, who ID's these animals? Or is wildlife exempt? Such an exemption could only be due to cost, as the risk of disease must be many times greater in the wildlife population due to rather limited use of vaccination programs. And, as wildlife is not in the habit of using our border checkpoints, are our neighbors north and south on board with our program?

As the practical obstacles to an ID program come to the forefront, it looks to me like the ID crowd is slowly but surely losing the wind in its sails and are resorting to force for what persuasion can't get done. Paul Lawinger Dodgeville, WI