Washington -- A mandatory animal identification tracking system is the most effective way to minimize an animal disease outbreak.
-- A mandatory animal identification tracking system is the most effective way to minimize an animal disease outbreak.
That was the message Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, CEO and executive vice-president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), delivered to Congress on Wednesday.
The National Animal Identification System (NAIS), a program run by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is an information system under which food animals are tagged so that their movements can be tracked in the event of a disease outbreak.
Livestock identification and premises registration in NAIS currently are voluntary. Only about one-third, or 505,000, of America's food animal production facilities currently are registered.
Making the NAIS mandatory would allow for the quick control of diseases entering the food supply. The speedy turnaround could save millions of animal lives and billions of dollars, as well as shield public health and U.S. trade from profound damages, DeHaven said.
"The U.S. cannot afford to wait for a crisis to make a mandatory animal identification system a reality," DeHaven said.