During February 2010, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that his agency would be redirecting efforts surrounding animal identification in the nation to the development of a framework for animal disease traceability. The new framework places USDA in the role of determining rules for interstate movement of animals, and places the responsibility of traceability on States and Tribal Nations within their own boundaries. Given the details involved with this change in direction, there have been many questions raised by animal producers and marketers, as well as State and Tribal animal health officials.

Through a series of public meetings beginning in May, USDA has been gathering feedback on the new framework; however, the public sessions have not provided the opportunity for all animal health officials and industry participants to meet jointly to discuss the many issues and develop sensible solutions for developing an animal disease traceability system that will best serve both groups.

As a result, it has been announced by the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) and the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) that they will co-host a Joint Strategy Forum on Animal Disease Traceability, to be held August 30-31, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Forum is being designed to facilitate much-needed interaction between State and Tribal animal health officials, animal producers, livestock marketers and handlers, and meat processors that yields valuable input on preliminary standards being developed by USDA’s Traceability Regulatory Working Group, expected to be released in mid-August.

“This Forum will allow for the open flow of ideas and concerns among those producing animals; State and Tribal officials responsible for protecting the health of animals in their areas; and USDA,” said Dr. Richard Breitmeyer, State Veterinarian for California and current president of USAHA. “Unless we have a discussion including all parties, the development of a viable animal disease traceability framework will be much more difficult.”

The Forum is open to everyone interested in the development of an effective and efficient system of identifying animals that move across State and Tribal lines in the U.S. Interactive sessions will be held covering all species of animals for which interstate movement requires compliance with animal health regulations.

“It has been announced by USDA that they intend to publish new rules on disease traceability by this winter, which makes this Forum crucial in conveying input before the rule is complete,” stated Dr. Michael Coe, co-chair of the Forum Planning Committee. “Given that timeline, industry and the States and Tribes need to make their positions known to decision-makers.”

The Joint Strategy Forum on Animal Disease Traceability will take place at the Renaissance Denver Hotel in Denver, Co. Hotel reservation and Forum registration information is available at www.animalagriculture.org or www.usaha.org.