Congressman Steve King is in Sydney, Australia, examining Australia’s livestock identification system. King says when a calf is born, an electronic tag is attached to its ear. Then, all through the process — from pasture to sale barn to packing plant — that tag is swiped and the information loaded into a computer. “A system like that, at least, is what we need to do in the United States,” King says. “Producers are looking like it as an insurance policy against disease.” King says with the advent of Mad Cow disease in North America, a livestock identification system could wind up being a blessing. King says tracking livestock from birth to the meat case is an opportunity the U-S should seize. “Tracking that livestock within 48 hours of any type of a disease outbreak will dramatically diminish the loss of livestock that would have to be slaughtered in order to eradicate a disease,” King says. “We could save an industry with it.” King says the system can also help track the rate of gain in livestock and provide valuable information to American farmers and ranchers. Australia exports about 70 percent of its livestock, and back in 1961 they came up with a less sophisticated animal I-D system because of an outbreak of brucellosis. The effort to establish an identification system for U-S livestock has been put on hold by the U-S-D-A.
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