A plan to formulate a private animal identification database that is accessible to USDA officials for disease tracking and to registered livestock producers was proposed Thursday at the annual National Cattlemen's Beef Association convention.

Presenting the plan was Mike John, vice president of the association in an issues forum. The U.S. livestock industries are being pushed by retailers and foodservice industries to come up with a way of verifying the source of the products they buy for consumers, John said. This goes beyond any country of origin plan.

However, producers are concerned about privacy, and law advisors said the best way to keep records out of the clutches of the Freedom Of Information Act was to keep the data base private, he said.

The Animal ID Commission that came up with the plan was approved by NCBA members and those on the committee were appointed by NCBA president Jan Lyons and approved by the Executive Committee, John said.

The vision is for the central database to be in the hands of a private database company with participation by cattle, hog, sheep and even poultry producers to help spread out the cost of setting up and operating the system, John said. Besides, many producers handle or raise more than one specie of farm animal.

Although the plan calls for the database to be in the hands of a private company, it would be overseen by a board composed of a few representatives from each livestock group that is participating, John said.

The plan will be presented to the membership more fully on Friday and will be debated before possibly being voted on by the membership on Saturday, John said.

Source: Association Release