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Ernst: Private sector will keep animal ID database
Illinois Correspondent

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The private sector, not the government, will run the livestock ID database, according to Dr. Mark Ernst, state veterinarian for the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA).

Ernst said he gained this news from the recent ID Info Expo. “Their was concern by the producers about who would have access,” he explained.

Ernst added that the private sector tracking seemed to be an agreed upon item between producers and government officials alike.

The Premise ID Program is a system where livestock premises register their site and animals to be able to trace the health and movement of farm animals.

Currently, the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is a voluntary program through the IDOA. The database establishes the location of where livestock are produced, raised and kept. The program also tracks an animal’s movement over their lifespan.

This program is a joint venture between the USDA and state agencies along with assistance from the livestock industry.

While Ernst said this program has been underway for the last decade, he did think that BSE in the U.S has escalated the inception of the program.

“Mad Cow disease helped move this along,” he said. “But for the past 10 years, we have been working on premise identification.”

Ernst said about 1,500 premises have registered with the IDOA. “That is out of 12,000-15,000 livestock premises, and with backyard animals, this could be more like 50,000-60,000,” he said. “The program is moving along, but slowly.”

Ernst encouraged livestock owners to register. “The goal of the program is that in a 48-hour period, we could trace backward or forward the origin to see what animal was or wasn’t exposed (to a disease),” he said.

Though the Premise ID Program is voluntary, Ernst thinks this may change.

“Animal tracking may become mandatory to be effective - it may have to be,” Ernst said. “Producers can find benefits in being registered, and it may be both producer and consumer driven.”

The IDOA points out that registering livestock premises whether a farm, production site, feed yard or livestock market does not increase liability, but rather offers a level of protection.

The entire reason for the ID is to be able to respond within the 48-hour time period in the event of an animal disease outbreak. To register livestock premises, visit the IDOA website at

Published in the October 26, 2005 issue of Farm World.