Livestock Tracking Delay May Put US Herd at Risk

WASHINGTON, US - A Bush administration plan to implement a livestock tracking system to prevent the spread of mad cow and other animal diseases is years behind schedule, and further delays could put the nation's herd at risk.
calendar icon 12 February 2008
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The national animal identification program was designed to track the home farm and herdmates of sick animals within 48 hours of an animal disease outbreak. Farmers are not obliged to participate in the program, which was embraced by the U.S. Agriculture Department after discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in 2003.

In its 2009 budget plan released on Monday, the Bush administration proposed $24 million for the program to restore funding to a "sufficient" level. A few weeks ago, Congress allotted $9.75 million in fiscal 2008, a sharp drop from the $33.2 million requested by the administration.

Some lawmakers have questioned the effectiveness of the program, which has consumed $120 million in federal funding so far. The USDA is worried Congress will be too stingy.

"If they come in less than $24 million they will be making a decision to slow down implementation of animal ID and will be jeopardizing our nation's herd," Bruce Knight, USDA's undersecretary for marketing and regulation, told Reuters.

Source: Guardian
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