USDA unveiled its guiding principles last month for the development of a public/private partnership that “enables the private sector to maintain animal movement data as part of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).” The four guiding principles are:

  • The system must be able to track animals from point of origin to processing within 48 hours without unnecessary burden to producers and other stakeholders.

  • The system's architecture must be developed without unduly increasing the size and role of government.

  • The system must be flexible enough to utilize existing technologies and incorporate new ID technologies as they develop.

  • Animal movement data should be maintained in a private system that can be readily accessed when necessary by state and federal animal health authorities.

USDA plans a stakeholder meeting to discuss expectations for the tracking system, user requirements and system specs. For more on NAIS, visit

The private data system eliminates one concern regarding a publicly held database — confidentiality of producer information. Records in a publicly held database theoretically would be open to access under the Freedom of Information Act.