Livestock I.D.

June 28, 2006

June 28, 2006

We find two or three "mad cows" and then we lose $5 billion of exports in two and one-half years. That is a serious loss. Finally, it looks like Japan is ready to open the door to our beef and I expect Korea and other countries to follow.

As silly as the global fear of"mad cow" may be, we need to make sure our markets aren't shut down again. The best way to minimize our risk is to implement a national traceability system for livestock.

We can't seem to get our act together. It looked like the livestock trade associations would support a mandatory program. That's what it looked like. Not now. A host of problems have popped up -- confidentiality at the top of the list. Don't want the animal rights activists to be able to get the information. Don't want the packers to get it either -- they would manipulate the price. But, I think the biggest problem is that no livestock association wants any other to get control of the database. So, the only answer is to have multiple databases or have USDA control a single database. I believe animal I.D. should be mandatory and USDA should be responsible for the database. With 40 countries in the world using their mandatory livestock tracking programs to sell their meat -- we had better wake up or they will steal our market share.

Remember, if you have something to sell, you better provide what the customer wants and the customer wants traceability. No small side benefit is that we would be in a better position to deal with a host of disease problems if we could trace sick animals.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.