Shift to Voluntary Animal ID Program Doesn't Appease Critics

VERMONT - Sharon Zecchinelli raises a couple of pigs, lambs, turkeys and two dozen chickens in her backyard.
calendar icon 5 December 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

The 50-year-old chef-turned-farmer says she knows more about her animals' health than she knows about her children's.

To her, a federal government plan to require farmers and ranchers to register their animals in a national database goes too far. And she remains skeptical about it, despite a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that participation in the National Animal Identification System will be voluntary, not mandatory as originally contemplated.

"I raise animals for my own use. NAIS, or a program like that, would be good for the factory farms, which is where the food is being spoiled ... We know our animals and we know their health," said Zecchinelli.

The premise registration and animal identification idea, which is aimed at tracking animals to help prevent the spread of mad cow disease, avian flu and other diseases, has divided the nation's livestock farmers. Some see it as necessary for disease prevention, others say it would be onerous and an unwarranted intrusion by government.

Rick Parizo, a dairy and hog farmer in Milton, said he supports premise registration but not the tracking of every animal. "I'll sell my animals first before I let them come through and tag every single animal," he said.

To date about 23 percent of ranches, farms, feed lots and other livestock facilities have registered their premises with the Agriculture Department.

Source: AP via The Boston Globe

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