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USDA responds to premises ID numbers

Pat Kopecki
Wilson County News
November 25, 2008

Article from

An internal memo to the members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture�s veterinary services department has caused confusion as to whether or not premises identification numbers (PIN) are voluntary or mandatory.

The memorandum includes information regarding the use of a seven-digit code to be used also in the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The state and national animal health commission agencies that oversee the program have said the program is voluntary.

Carla Everett, communications director of the Texas Animal Health Commission, said the program is voluntary and does not have an effective date, when questioned if the program is mandatory or not. Everett suggested contacting the federal level for clarification of the issue.

Joelle Schelhaus, public affairs specialist of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), said at the present time the premises identification number is a voluntary program and further explained what the memo will mean to producers.

She said the purpose of this memo is to provide guidance to veterinary services personnel, state cooperatives, and accredited veterinarians, and this memo �is an attempt to communicate the policy change internally.

She said, For disease programs and activities that are regulated in the Code of Federal Regulations, APHIS has the authority through the Animal Health Protection Act to require animal identification and a location identifier.

No producer will be mandated to register the premises. If they are part of a regulated activity or program and opt not to register their premises, a premises identification number will be assigned for their location. The premises identification number is only used by veterinary services as a location identifier for their disease programs. Producers have no obligation to use it for their own activities, Schelhaus said.

The PIN locations will be used for federal disease control programs such as bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, pseudorabies, scrapie, and chronic wasting disease.

Prior to the proposed use of the placing PIN locations into the National Animal Identification System and its National Premises Information Repository, the states kept their state herd number information and recorded data in the Animal Health and Surveillance Management System. Problems existed with duplicate numbers being found in the same location, especially if more than one disease program was being studied in that location.

The new, standardized, seven-digit premises identification number to be assigned to the premise will replace the state herd number currently being used.

Under interstate certificates of veterinary inspection, this will allow for a more accurate database.

APHIS is moving to phase in the standardization of location identifiers in order to increase animal disease traceability in the United States, Schelhaus said.

The ultimate goal of this program is a 48-hour traceback of affected or exposed animals in the event of an animal disease outbreak.

APHIS Veterinary Services reviews and revises its memos as needed to provide appropriate adjustments to its programs, Schelhaus said.

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