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Vilsack calls for NAIS feedback

Agriculture.com Staff 05/04/2009 @ 12:23pm

If there's anything constructive for the livestock industry to glean from the recent H1N1 influenza story and its alleged connection to the hog industry, it's that whether right or wrong, public perception is everything.

That's especially true in today's "times of economic uncertainty," says Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. It makes transparency in the livestock production system of high importance. That means a strong National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is vital to the industry's future, he says.

Such an end is the goal of Vilsack's call upon industry members to provide feedback on the construction and revamping of the NAIS, in which the Secretary says fewer more than 1/3 of the nation's livestock producers participate. He's looking for comments and feedback on the future of the NAIS from the industry.

"I am asking farmers and stakeholders to engage with USDA in a more productive dialogue about NAIS," Vilsack says. "Now is the time to have frank and open conversations. We need to work collaboratively to resolve concerns and move forward with animal disease traceability."

He says two goals are behind his call for NAIS discussions:

  1. Sharing accurate information about the current program, and
  2. Discussing how to work together to resolve issues of concern while creating a system which farmers can support.

"The main issues of concern are well documented, so I am specifically seeking your ideas or suggestions on how to resolve these concerns, as well as any new concerns you have," Vilsack says. "Even with all the preventative measures USDA already has in place, animal disease can still strike. A disease event can have far-reaching consequences, impacting more than just farmers with sick animals. A disease event also affects other farmers and the livestock industry through movement and international trade restrictions. Not only do the farmers' communities feel the economic pinch, but so does the entire country."

If there's anything constructive for the livestock industry to glean from the recent H1N1 influenza story and its alleged connection to the hog industry, it's that whether right or wrong, public perception is everything.

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