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The New York Times this morning reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), in line with new priorities established by the Obama administration, plans “to scrap a national program intended to help authorities quickly identify and track livestock in the event of an animal disease outbreak. In abandoning the program, called the National Animal Identification System, officials said they would start over in trying to devise a livestock tracing program that could win widespread support from the industry.”

According to the story, “it would be left to the states to devise many aspects of a new system, including requirements for identifying livestock. New federal rules will be developed but the officials said they would apply only to animals being moved in interstate commerce, such as cattle raised in one state being transported to a slaughterhouse in another state.

“It could take two years or more to create new federal rules, the officials said, and it was not clear how far the government would go to restrict the movement of livestock between states if the animals did not meet basic traceability standards.”

The now-scrapped system was devised by the Bush administration in 2003 after the discovery of a cow in the US that was infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), better known as mad cow disease.
KC's View:
I understand that there was widespread dissatisfaction with the National Animal Identification System, but I cannot help but believe that it is never a good thing when food safety efforts such as this one get scrapped so that the bureaucrats can start over. I’m also uneasy with the notion that this could be done on a state-by-state basis. We need a consistent, federal approach to issues such as this one.

I guess that in the end, if we eventually have a better system in place it will be worth the effort. But it just strikes me that we ought to be able to do better than this.