|By SUSAN BLOWER
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — While 4-Hers look forward to the county fair season as an opportunity to show off their livestock, it can also be an opportunity for diseases to spread, said Jennifer Greiner, a veterinarian with Indiana’s Board of Animal Health (BOAH).
“Exhibitions serve as an opportunity for diseases to spread. I compare it to when we all go back to school after a break. We share bugs and get sick for a couple of weeks,” Greiner said last week.
For that reason, Greiner said it is important for 4-H participants to register their premise with BOAH.
Any Indiana site associated with the sale, purchase or exhibition of cattle, hogs, sheep, goats or captive cervids must be registered by Sept. 1.
As director of Identification Programs for BOAH, Greiner said more than 8,100 livestock owners have already signed on to the new program. Its purpose is to trace forward and back of animals in the event of a serious disease outbreak.
Greiner said each county already maintains records of 4-H participants, but each county has its own system.
“This program is like an electronic phone book. It will file the same information in a consistent way. As far as knowing where all the livestock live, in all honesty, we don’t know (at this time),” Greiner said.
Greiner said the beef cattle industry is the one that state offices know the least about because there has not been a disease eradication program for a long time.
The hog industry was put through the pseudorabies eradication in 2000. Even so, producers leave the industry and significant change is possible in a short time, she said.
Premise registration – filing the location of each livestock herd – is free in Indiana. Indiana’s premise registration program is voluntary for horse and poultry owners.
Rumors spread like disease
Greiner said she is aware that some 4-H and hobby farmers are concerned about the cost of registration.
“I don’t foresee that this program will be cost inhibitive. It is free to register in Indiana, and I don’t see that changing,” she said.
She also does not think livestock owners will be fined if they miss the Sept. 1 deadline. However, she said the registration number will be required to exhibit or market animals after that date. Premise ID is the foundation for the national ID initiative.
The system is developing nationally in three phases: premise ID, individual animal (group/lot) ID, and animal/product tracking. Indiana is currently working within phase one.
“There is a lot of bad information out there,” Greiner said. “Things like ‘Big Brother’ monitoring all the animals. But we’re in the business of protecting animal health in Indiana. I’d be scared, too, if I heard (the rumors) without knowing as much as I do.”
Greiner said the information collected for premise ID is no more than what is found in a phone book, plus the type of livestock kept there.
“4-Hers are showing in all parts of the state. It’s no big secret what animals you have,” Greiner said.
“Registering these sites is not about controlling or monitoring what people are raising or consuming,” she continued. “The program is about protecting Hoosiers’ investment in animal agriculture if we had a disease event that threatens our food supply.”
Livestock owners have several options in how they register their premise at no cost.
Printed registration forms may be picked up at local USDA Farm Service Agency offices, some Purdue Extension Service offices, some veterinary clinics, and at many state and regional commodity association events. Farmers also can register online at www.boah.in.gov or download and print forms from that website.
This website also provides more information and answers to frequently asked questions.
This farm news was published in the June 14, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.