|By MICHELE F. MIHALJEVICH
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The deadline for registering premises under Indiana’s premise and animal identification program is Sept. 1, and the state is increasing efforts to get the word out.
The program requires anyone who buys, sells or exhibits specified animals to have a premise identification number, said Jennifer Greiner, a veterinarian and ID programs director for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH).
It is mandatory to register cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and captive bison, deer and elk, she said. Registration of poultry and horses is voluntary.
Premise identification is the first step under the USDA’s three-step National Animal Identification System (NAIS), she said. The second step is animal identification and the third is animal and product tracking.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” she said. “We’re trying to be ahead of the game. We’re trying to get the word out to all facets of agriculture in Indiana.”
Indiana’s program requires any animal site that has a unique 911 or postal address to have a premise identification number, Greiner said. There is no charge to register.
The forms are easy to complete, she said. Information requested includes name, address, phone number and the kinds of animals at each specific site.
“We’re basically asking for a little bit more info than you’d find in the phone book,” she said. “I think there might be a little resistance to some of this at first, until they realize this is all the information we need.”
In addition to making the state compliant with NAIS, Indiana’s premise identification program will have other benefits, Greiner said.
“This will help immensely in knowing who to contact in an emergency,” she said. “They won’t just be a dot on a map. This will give them a name.”
In natural disasters or other emergencies, the premise identification information can be connected with a resource database, she said.
“This would help us to know what resources are available, such as backhoes, pumps or empty facilities to temporarily store animals.”
The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service in Steuben County, Ind., has sent out information in a couple of newsletters about the program said Tom Eickholtz, county agriculture and natural resources educator.
“I started one of the newsletters by saying, ‘Mad Cow. Bird flu. Foot and mouth. How many reasons do you need?’” Eickholtz said. “If there’s a problem or even an epidemic, this makes it easier for us to pinpoint.”
Eickholtz said he doubts there will be problems getting premises registered once people understand what information is requested.
“These are real simple forms,” he said. “There might be a fear factor, at least initially, because they assume they want every animal identified. That’s not the case so I don’t expect any problems.”
Brad Kohlhagen, Adams County, Ind., agriculture and natural resources educator, agrees.
“We’ve had a few questions, but I can’t say a lot of people are upset,” he said. “When it first came out, there were rumors, and some might have been saying, ‘Oh great, they want all this information and want us to fill out all these forms’, but that’s not the case.”
Adams County is home to many Amish, and Kohlhagen said he is working on ways to keep them informed. “We really haven’t talked to them a great deal yet,” he said. “One of our biggest challenges is getting the word out to them.”
LaGrange County, Ind., has already requested and received a premise number for the fairgrounds, and forms have been sent to high school agriculture teachers, said John Emerson, 4-H/youth development educator.
“We want to be sure that everyone knows that premises with 4-H animals need to be registered, too,” he said. “From the 4-H standpoint, we’re here to educate everyone. We want to help spread the word. Education is a lot more effective than enforcement.”
The USDA has a tentative timeline to complete nationwide premise and animal identification by Jan. 1, 2008, and animal tracking by Jan. 1, 2009, Greiner said.
County farm service agency offices and extension service offices have information on the program, she said. For details, contact Greiner at 317-227-0328 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information, including a form available for downloading, is available on the BOAH website www.in.gov/boah
This farm news was published in the February 22, 2006 issue of Farm World.