Farmers resist plans to track sick livestock

US - A federal effort to quickly pinpoint and contain outbreaks of disease among livestock is coming under attack on farms, in Internet chat rooms, and at livestock markets, ranches and feed shops across the nation.
calendar icon 14 December 2006
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Although the effort, the National Animal Identification System, intended to trace a sick animal to the property it came from within 48 hours, is still in early, voluntary stages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has had to retreat from a proposal to make it mandatory.

Officials now say that further participation will result from financial incentives and market pressure.

"This is admittedly a very emotional issue with many folks," said Bruce Knight, the department's under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs. "It's one that really asks for a lot of patience and resolve."

Knight admits that his agency has made mistakes in establishing the tracking system, which began to be rolled out in 2005. The rule-making process was not transparent enough, he said, which only raised the mistrust of farmers. He said that he has been meeting with groups across the country to better explain the program.

Source: International Herald Tribune
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