The US Department of Agriculture has decided to drop a livestock tracking program that has been considered one of the "the most important agenda items" in the agricultural industry. The Allegheny Front's Kate Malongowski has the details.
HOST LEAD IN: The US Department of Agriculture has decided to drop a livestock tracking program that has been considered one of the "the most important agenda items" in the agricultural industry. The Allegheny Front's Kate Malongowski has the details.
MALONGOWSKI: A program that was enacted to track farm animals to better control the spread of disease in poultry, cattle and other animals is going to be discontinued. The National Animal Identification system faced much scrutiny especially from small scale ranchers and farmers when it was introduced in 2004. They said the tracking equipment was expensive and keeping tabs on where animals go was difficult.
Carrie Hahn, who works at the Ron Gargasz Organic Farm in Volant, PA, says the problem also applies to small scale farmers because production levels of each farm should be considered.
HAHN: This shouldn't be a blanket program that's going to affect the same farmer who's doing 10,000 cattle shouldn't have the same regulations as the guy that's got 100. From my perspective on a smaller producer scale, it's not going work for us if we have the same policy and same regulation to follow. It'll be too cost prohibitive.
MALONGOWSKI: Hahn would also like the USDA to compare the conditions of bigger scale farms to smaller ones, saying that the livestock at bigger farms are more likely to be contaminated.
Although the tracking system was voluntary, some farmers feared the program would become mandatory. Now, USDA officials are working to devise a new program with hopes that there will be more public approval. They will be consulting those in the livestock industry over the next few months to help mold it. Control of the program at the state level will also be considered, but Hahn says that will only reintroduce the same problems the program had before.
For the Allegheny Front, I'm Kate Malongowski.