The industry has seen its share of animal health issues domestically, as well as around the world. It is now time for farmers to join together and lead the charge on the National Animal Identification System.
Breeding, feeding, handling and vaccination – all of these carefully-planned measures help contribute to herd health, and to safe and wholesome dairy products. Animal identification needs to be part of these processes too.
Animal ID is paramount in maintaining animal health in every herd. While identifying premises cannot prevent disease, it is essential to speeding a timely response. It will be difficult to track and control the spread of a contagious disease without real-time knowledge about where animals are located and where they have been.
Premise registration information will help define which regions of our country are, and are not, affected by an outbreak. This will allow markets to be kept open for unaffected producers, preventing unnecessary movement restrictions and ensuring that emergency situations will be handled quickly and accurately.
A driving factor behind animal identification is the needs of food marketers. Restaurants and grocery chains are rapidly changing to meet consumer demands, which include knowing the origin of their food. In some areas, consumers already pay a premium for animals that have been tracked from birth. Dairy farmers have the opportunity to be ahead of this curve and register each premises where animals are housed, and later, identify each animal that is part of the operation before it becomes mandatory to do so.
Protect Domestic and International Markets
The industry also needs to be ready to protect and preserve domestic and international markets. Borders are still closed to beef exports and cattle imports. We need to have a system in place that will protect dairy farmers so they can freely export and import products and animals around the world.
Every producer is part of a larger community. Choosing to participate in premises registration demonstrates a total commitment to protecting animals, neighbors, and the infrastructure of the U.S. dairy sector.