The U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) Livestock Identification (ID) Committee approved the concept of a national mandatory livestock ID system.

A National Identification Development Team made up of state animal health officials, livestock industry groups and the federal government has worked for more than a year to develop a comprehensive ID plan.

John Wortman, Las Cruces, NM, is chairman of the committee. He says, “It looks like the industry will move forward with Phase One of the plan which will establish livestock production Premises ID by July 2004.”

Wortman is uneasy, however, that individual states may not be able to design ID systems tailored to fit their geography and production practices.

“‘Brand’ states like New Mexico are in a different situation with regard to animal tracking and proving ownership,” he explains. “We hope all states will have some leeway in developing their own ID systems.”

The plan proposes that standardized premises ID numbers be established for all livestock operations, market facilities, assembly points, exhibitions and processing plants.

“Livestock” includes beef and dairy cattle, bison, horses, swine, sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, deer, elk, poultry and aquaculture production.

The plan calls for individual ID of cattle, swine and small ruminants destined for interstate movement by February 2005.

Other food animal species would be required to be identified with unique, individual group or lot numbers, depending on species, by July 2006.

Detailed plan information is available at www.usaip.info.