USDA issues draft plan for animal IDs

The Agriculture Department has released a draft plan for tracking animal movements to speed its response to potential outbreaks such as mad-cow disease. The National Animal Identification System would identify and track animals from birth to death.

The department will determine system standards through field trials, user experience and the federal rulemaking process, said Agriculture secretary Mike Johanns.

The department plans to roll out the ID system in phases. The current primary activity is registering premises, or the locations where livestock are raised or held. Next, Agriculture will implement a means to identify animals in the system. Cattle will have individual ID numbers attached with a tag or other device. The ID number may be cross-referenced for verification or linked to other technologies such as radio frequency or retinal image identification.

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