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Two New Programs: Premises Identification and the National Animal Identification System

by 5m Editor
6 June 2005, at 12:00a.m.

By F. Dustan Clark, Extension Poultry Veterinarian, Center of Excellence for Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas's Avian Advice - The last 10 years has seen an increase in the number of disease outbreaks around the world. In the United States there have been several foreign animal disease outbreaks in the last 4 years (Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza - Virginia. 2000, Exotic Newcastle-California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas 2003-04, High Pathogenic Avian Influenza-Texas 2003 and BSE, USA and Canada 2003).

Two New Programs: Premises Identification and the National Animal Identification System - By F. Dustan Clark, Extension Poultry Veterinarian, Center of Excellence for Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas's Avian Advice - The last 10 years has seen an increase in the number of disease outbreaks around the world. In the United States there have been several foreign animal disease outbreaks in the last 4 years (Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza - Virginia. 2000, Exotic Newcastle-California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas 2003-04, High Pathogenic Avian Influenza-Texas 2003 and BSE, USA and Canada 2003).
The Author

Dr. Dustan Clark
Extension Poultry Health Veterinarian

Introduction

These outbreaks have caused tremendous interest in developing a method to quickly identify animals for the purposes of protecting animal health and easily tracking animals. Many countries (Australia, Canada, and the European Union to name a few) have some system of animal identification already in place. The United States Department of Agriculture has made the development of a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) a top priority to respond to the national and international concerns regarding protecting animal health and quickly identifying and tracking animals. The first step toward this system is a premises identification/registration program.

Premises Identification

The National Premises Identification System (NPIS) is the first step towards a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and will be established before animals can be tracked. The registration of premises and thus knowing where animals are located is a key component of accurately tracking animal movement in the case of a disease investigation. The premises involved in the commerce of livestock and poultry will be identified with a unique identification number assigned by the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) who will closely working with state and/or tribal agencies/authorities involved with animal health.

A premise is defined as any geographically unique location that is associated with the commerce, movement or commingling of poultry and/or livestock. This definition will thus include farms, ranches, livestock auctions, feedlots, county or state fairs, and livestock and/or poultry exhibits. There are three components of the NPIS. The premises number allocator will be how a unique number is assigned by USDA to a premise. Each premise must have a valid address and/or a verifiable description of the location where animals are commingled or have some association with the animal industry (such as a veterinary clinic or diagnostic laboratory). Only one number will be allocated to a premise regardless of the number of species associated with the premise. The premise number allocator will be maintained at the national level only.

The premise registration system is the second component and is a database program for storing the information necessary for the premise. Since the information stored is unique to a premise this allows animal health officials to rapidly contact the appropriate owner or supervisor of the premise in the event of a disease investigation. The plan is to maintain the data for 20 years and it will include the date the premise was initiated or deactivated so the appropriate people can be contacted for a specific time frame if needed. The state and/or tribal animal health agencies/authorities are responsible for handling and maintaining the premise registration under their jurisdiction. A standardized registration system is to be provided to them by APHIS for use if desired or they can use a system developed by them or some other party. The third component of the system is the national premise information repository. This is a very important component of the system and contains data forwarded from the premise registration system. This repository will be a centralized system maintained by USDA/APHIS and will contain data that is necessary to support the NAIS such as the unique numbers to be assigned to animals at a specific premise.

The numbers assigned for premise identification will be of two types, both of which will consist of sever alphanumeric characters (7 letter/number combinations). One number is a unique national number that will be assigned to any location or premise that is involved in livestock and/or poultry agriculture. This number will be permanently assigned by the state or tribal registration system to the premise. The number does not change if the property is sold. The second type of number is a unique number that is assigned to entities that do not manage or hold livestock or poultry (such as animal identification services, veterinarians, or breed registries), but are still involved in the NAIS. Once premises are identified, animal identification will be the second step of the NAIS.

Animal Identification

The goal of the NAIS is to be able to identify any animal or premise that has had contact with a disease of concern (foreign or domestic) within 48 hours after discovery of the disease. This can be done with identification of the premise and animal or animal group. The first phase of the NAIS is to uniquely identify a premise; when this is complete the second phase is to uniquely identify an animal or animal/poultry group or lot associated with the premise. This will be done via a unique number for each animal. A 15 character number will be used for individual animals. A 13 character number may be an option for those species such as poultry and pigs that move as one group in the chain of production. The exact technology for uniquely identifying an animal does not exist as a “one size fits all.” The technology that works best for one specie may not work well for others. Because of this the USDA focus is on the design of the data system as to what information should be collected and when it should be reported with the belief that once the system is designed the most appropriate technology for the system needs will be market determined.

When development is complete the NAIS will be a standardized system of animal identification that will allow rapid tracing in the event of a disease concern (foreign or domestic). The system will allow identification of cattle, bison, deer, elk, llamas, alpacas, goats, horse, sheep, pigs, and poultry. Participation in the program will be voluntary while it is under development. But USDA will continue to assess the program while it is developed and tested to see if parts or all of it should be mandatory. Currently, there is no timeframe for the system to be in place. However, USDA is now moving the program forward using a phase approach with the first priority being the premise identification. Once premises are identified, animal identification systems will be tested. Naturally, there has been concern about confidentiality issues. The information contained in the system (premise and animal identification) will be accessible by federal, state, and tribal authorities when needed for administration of animal health programs. The need to access data is an important part of conducting an animal health and disease control program designed to prevent disease spread and to protect the public health. USDA/APHIS is very concerned about confidentiality issues and as such is exploring effective means of collecting data and options for protecting the data from public access. The national repository will only contain information as it relates to the purpose of tracking animals and diseases.

What Can Producers Do Now

Livestock and poultry producers should check with their state or tribal animal health authorities about the availability of the program in their area. In Arkansas the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission (ALPC) is the agency responsible for animal health concerns. If the premise registration system is operational in their area, a producer can obtain a unique identification number for their premise. The information needed for a number will include: name, address, and phone number of person in charge of the location, contact name, and type of premise. Once the premise is registered a producer may participate in the animal identification program if it is available in the state or tribal reservation. Currently, there has been no defined budget for the program by USDA. The intent of USDA is to minimize cost as possible; however, some expenses may be associated with the program. The decision for costs for registering a premise are in the jurisdiction of the state or tribe.

Summary

Disease outbreaks can be costly. Time is valuable when it comes to controlling disease outbreaks. Preventing death losses, market loss, and reducing treatment costs depends on prompt disease diagnosis and rapid identification of exposed animals. Changing markets, trade issues, disease outbreaks, and ease of worldwide travel necessitate the need for a method to identify and track animals as quickly as possible. These two programs will allow the animal industries of the USA to be able to do just that. Additional information about the programs can be obtained from the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, your county agent, the listed references, or the NAIS website (http://www. aphis.gov/lpa/issues/nais/nais.html).

References

Premises Identification. The First Step Towards a National Animal Identification Program. Program Aid No. 1800. United States Department of Agriculture. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The National Animal identification System (NAIS). Why Animal Identification? Why Now? What First. Program Aid No. 1797. United States Department of Agriculture. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Source: Avian Advice - Spring 2005 - Volume 7, Number 2