Concerns Over The National Animal ID Program

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I found it interesting that you did not finish the microchipping story. While I believe that it is a good thing, it should also be a voluntary thing. You forgot to mention that the USDA’s Animal ID program will be mandatory by 2008. Mandatory means everyone. Even if your horse is one hundred years old and sits in a pasture all day, it will be mandatory.

The minute you take your horse off your property for any reason, you will be required to register your property with a Global Positioning System device with coordinates for satellite monitoring in a private database (not belonging to the ID company) under a 7-digit property ID number.

You will be responsible for reporting every time your horse enters or leaves the property as well as when other animals enter or leave, all this must be reported within 24 hours of the event.

Think of all the activities you do with your horse and figure out how much this is going to cost. It is not free and you will have to foot the entire bill for all needed equipment and all monitoring fees. By the way, this law will apply to all livestock animals no matter how many or how few you own. Educate yourself at www.usda.gov/nais. Let’s get all the facts before we hop on the microchip bandwagon. We might not like where it’s taking us.

Michele Dutcher
Oregon

We did double-check our story when we received your letter. We also checked the website you mention and consulted AVID again. The USDA’s program is not mandatory nor have they set a date for it becoming mandatory.

At this time, GPS technology does not interface with microchips we place in our horses nor do these microchips work with satellite monitoring. We don’t view microchips as a way for the government to monitor our every move but as a way to help us get our horses safely home in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or theft — far more likely events, in our opinion, than linking to satellites when we load up our horses to go to a horse show. We received another letter from an anonymous reader even more worried than you are, and he was armed with other misconceptions and inaccurate information.

In February 2004 issue, we explained the USDA’s project that would enable them to track livestock in animal-disease emergencies. If this becomes mandatory, we will keep you informed.