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Secretary of US Homeland Security Endorses National ID System for Livestock

by 5m Editor
5 May 2003, at 12:00am

UK - Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Bush administration's Department of Homeland Security has endorsed an ambitious concept for nationwide identification of all commercial livestock.

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Ridge's support is the latest, vivid signal of progress toward a national animal identification plan. Spurred partly by post-Sept. 11 fears of bioterrorism, industry and government officials are speeding up work on the proposals.

The U.S. Animal Health Association has been closely involved with animal identification planning, which includes a possible "gate-to-plate" system tagging individual pigs, cattle and dairy cows from their birth to their ultimate culinary destination. Ideally, the system would enable tracking of a specific animal within 48 hours of a public health problem.

Useful even in peacetime, this proposal has gained special resonance following comments from Ridge of "references that we pick up in the intelligence community" that the U.S. food supply could be a terrorist target.

The costs and complications, though, can boggle the mind, however, Ridge's endorsement of the concept, raises some hopes that the federal government could shoulder some of the burden once it's billed to Homeland Defence.

Industry sources predict it could still be two to five years before any system took effect.

Source: Meat and Livestock Commission - 5th May 2003

5m Editor