The U-S-D-A chief says a national livestock identification system that’s still being developed will be voluntary, not required. U-S Ag Secretary Mike Johanns says the mandatory animal I-D plan met with much resistance from cattle producers who didn’t want to have to put special tags on every animal or to worry about privacy issues. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says some farmers may complain the voluntary system won’t be aggressive enough — but not many. Grassley, a Republican, says “There’s a general attitude among farmers of being fearful of too much government regulation, even though a lot of farmers will understand, with mad cow disease, the necessity of having such ability to follow livestock from birth to slaughter.” He says having such a system in place will help to bolster consumer confidence in the livestock industry.
Grassley says “We’re headed down the road of getting people to think in terms of animal I-D, albeit voluntary in the first instance and then if there’s a greater public need through a spread of disease to go further we can make that decision at a later point.”
He says he wasn’t entirely sold on making the animal I-D system mandatory and still questions some elements of the proposed program. Grassley says “I still have doubts about how it would work, who was going to pay for it because I didn’t think farmers should pay for it entirely and it could be very costly, and to make sure that it’s something that would be workable and would not be an undue burden especially on small farmers.”
The U-S-D-A plan calls for having 40-percent of young animals and 70-percent of all farms registered by 2008.