Monday, March 06, 2006

Tracking livestock

Livestock ID system to be ready by fall:
What industry officials call the first national database for tracking livestock was unveiled last week and should be ready this fall for voluntary registration.

The database — initially run by Dallas-based ViaTrace LLC — marks another step toward the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s goal of tracing any animal to its place of origin within 48 hours in order to keep diseased animals out of the food supply.
I've been trying to make up my mind about this for a while, since I read this piece about the impacts of this program on small farmers. While I think some of the fears cross into paranoia, there is a valuable core to the argument. Applying onerous standards to small farmers won't improve tracking of mad cow disease, but will make it harder for small farmers to stay in business.

Tracking the flow of cattle will play a valuable role in tracing the spread of mad cow disease, and that's important. It's important to farmers big and small. Controlling the spread of infected cattle and tracing an infection to its source will re-open markets that are currently closed, plus it might just keep people from developing holes in their brains.

What do people think?