WASHINGTON, April 15, 2008--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that it has implemented a key strategy from its Business Plan to Advance Animal Disease Traceability by providing National Animal Identification System (NAIS) compliant "840" radio frequency (RF) eartags to animal health officials for use in the bovine tuberculosis (TB) control program.
NAIS-compliant "840" tags provide for individual identification of livestock through a 15-digit number beginning with the U.S. country code. Through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, the "840" tags allow animal health officials to electronically identify an animal. This increases the efficiency of animal disease investigations that involve the tracing of exposed and potentially infected animals. RFID technology also increases the accuracy of recording the animal's 15-digit animal identification number (AIN). USDA has purchased a total of 1.5 million "840" RF animal identification tags to support animal disease control programs, including the bovine TB and brucellosis programs.
"Using NAIS-compliant tags with RF technology establishes a consistent data format across our animal disease programs. It will also increase the efficiency and accuracy of the on-ground animal health task force conducting bovine TB testing and response," said Bruce Knight, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. "This effort supports a key strategy outlined in our business plan and is another step toward reaching NAIS' ultimate goal of 48-hour traceability."
Recently, USDA shipped 28,000 tags to California to support bovine TB testing as part of an ongoing investigation. So far, a total of 6,600 cattle in two California herds have been tagged with "840" devices. The goal is to link the cattle to their premises of origin, so that if there is an outbreak in the future the movements of the infected animals can be quickly traced. Bovine tuberculosis investigations are currently occurring in several States. Since 2002, bovine TB detections in six states have required the destruction of more than 25,000 cattle. USDA has tested over 787,000 animals in response to TB outbreaks since 2004.
RF tags have been used in beef and dairy operations for management and marketing purposes for several years. Incorporating AIN RF tags into animal disease programs promotes the standardization of identification methods and technology so that they can be used by producers and animal health officials for multiple purposes.
Currently, there are five USDA-approved manufacturers that produce eight devices for official NAIS use. Seven of these devices are RFID eartags, while the other device is an injectable transponder to be used in horses and other farm animals not intended to enter the food production chain.
NAIS is a modern, streamlined information system that helps producers and animal health officials respond quickly and effectively to events affecting animal health in the United States. NAIS utilizes premises registration, animal identification and animal tracing components to both locate potentially diseased animals and eliminate animals from disease suspicion. It is a state-federal-industry partnership, which is voluntary at the federal level. For more information on NAIS, go to www.usda.gov/nais.