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USDA Seeks Comment on NAIS Documents Affecting How Horses are Handled

WASHINGTON, DC - The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have requested comments on National Animal Identification System (NAIS) documents that will affect how livestock, including horses, are handled within the program.

The NAIS is a voluntary identification system intended to control the spread of disease and to minimize the negative impact of a disease outbreak on the livestock industry, including horses. This would be done through the identification of premises that hold or manage livestock, animal identification and the recording of some animal movements.

This is a voluntary program, though some states have mandated certain parts of the system, such as mandatory premises registration in Wisconsin. Participation in one segment of the NAIS does not require participation in the entire program. It is possible to have a premises registered but not officially identify your animals or report their movements or you can identify your animals without reporting their movements.

One of the key recommendations made by the Equine Species Working Group (ESWG), the task force developed to evaluate the NAIS and offer recommendations as to how the horse industry might be able to participate in such a system, is that no equine movements should be reported.

Though some components of the NAIS are already being fully implemented, the program in its entirety is still in developmental stages and changing regularly. Many of the changes that have been made since the program has been introduced can be seen in the new documents.

The documents that the USDA and APHIS are requesting comments on include:

A Draft User Guide

A Program Standards and Technical Reference document

A technical specification document for the animal tracking databases

The Draft User Guide is the most current plan for the NAIS, providing comprehensive information about participation in the program. It replaces all other previously published program documents.

The Program Standards and Technical Reference Document is a supplement to the Draft User Guide that is targeted to those involved in the administration of the NAIS. It updates the data element standards from the 2005 Draft Program Standards.

The Animal Tracking Database Technical Specifications Document contains the requirements for animal tracking databases for the implementation phase of the final NAIS component, animal movement recording.

These documents can be found at http://www.usda.gov/nais. Comments on any of these documents or any other aspect of the NAIS may be submitted to USDA through email (animalidcomment@aphis.usdagov) or by mail to the following address:

NAIS Program Staff, VS, APHIS

4700 River Road, Unit 200

Riverdale, MD 20737

The ESWG is the designated United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) working group for horses on the issue of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). It is the working groupís responsibility to review and evaluate the NAIS and the possible participation of the horse industry in the program, as well as developing recommendations for a national equine identification plan that is in the best interests of, and protects the rights of, horse owners and breeders.


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