|By TIM THORNBERRY
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Livestock producers in Kentucky have a high tech way to become a part of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) as online premise registration has become available via the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s (KDA) website.
The USDA set up the system so that farmers, stockyard owners and those involved with other farm animal destinations may go to www.kyagr.com, click on the online premises registration link and follow the instructions.
KDA along with the Kentucky Beef Network (KBN), the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Assoc., the University of Kentucky, Kentucky Farm Bureau and other partners are seeking to register every state agriculture-related premise as a way to provide a viable foundation for the NAIS, an electronic animal identification system that will enable authorities to trace an animal back to its farm of origin quickly in the event of a disease outbreak.
Premise registration is the key first step toward developing a nationwide animal identification system, said the KDA and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer. “An animal identification system will make it possible to trace an animal back to its farm of origin within 48 hours of a disease outbreak,” he said. “That way, a disease can be contained with as little economic impact on our agriculture industry as possible.”
The need for a national identification system has been at the front of agricultural agendas since the discovery of Mad Cow disease in Washington State in 2003. The diseased cow came from Canada with about 80 other animals, most of which could not be tracked.
Premise and livestock information is collected for a databank using USDA computers in Colorado.
Each premise is randomly assigned its own number. The system requires the premises owner’s name and address, directions to the premises and the kind of animals raised there.
In turn, each animal will have an electronic chip or “tag” placed on it that can be read by a scanning device and sent to that databank.
Each animal would have one specific number, which would be registered in the system along with its corresponding premise number. Each time the animal passes through a stockyard or slaughter facility; source verification information may be obtained and stored in the event that information was needed.
“Knowing who raises horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, poultry, shrimp, llamas or anything else means we could contact only the producers directly affected by a disease of concern,” said Tim Turney, director of the KDA’s Division of Producer Services. “Livestock buyers will be able to verify the source of each animal and each animal’s age. This will enhance their market value, particularly in export markets.”
Turney also said the department’s goal is to identify every Kentucky location with farm animals, including not only many of the state’s 88,000 farms, but also stockyards, stables, slaughter facilities, rendering plants, veterinary clinics, and any other place a farm animal might have been.
KBN has been instrumental in getting tracking devices installed at stockyards and other livestock destinations throughout the state.
“We have worked slowly and cautiously with this for the last few years and Kentucky is at the forefront of this type of technology,” said John Stevenson, KBN director. “Once the NAIS is in place, those producers who already have their premise numbers will be ahead of the curve.”
Nearly every livestock producer group and market group has endorsed the premises registration process. The USDA will require premises registration and animal identification by January 2008 while the final step in the process - collecting and reporting defined animal movements - is scheduled to become mandatory in January 2009.
More than 133,000 agricultural premises from all 50 states, five Native American tribes and two U.S. territories have been registered thus far.
“This service will take a lot of the hassle out of premises registration,” said Turney. “People can follow the easy, step-by-step process right at home.”
For more information, visit the KDA website at www.kyagr.com
This Kentucky farm news was published in the November 9, 2005 issue of Farm World.