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Equine Identification Task Force Meets, Discusses ID Plan Issues
Horse Press Release
The American Horse Council (AHC) National Equine Identification Plan Task Force, composed of representatives from all segments of the horse industry, held its second meeting in Dallas, Texas, March 18-19, 2004. "Clearly, the meeting indicated that the horse organizations represented believe there are many benefits to participating in the national livestock identification plan to ensure there is a system in place for horses in case of a major disease outbreak," said Dan Fick of The Jockey Club, who chaired the meeting. "This meeting reviewed and highlighted the specific details that must still be worked out for the horse industry."
The AHC Task Force was formed last fall to evaluate the U.S. Animal Identification Plan (USAIP or Plan), its potential benefits for the horse industry and to determine if the industry could develop standards for equine identification that would fit into it. The first meeting took place on Jan.17, 2004 in Los Angeles during the U.S. Equestrian Federation meeting.
While the USAIP section on horses is not specific at this time, equine identification standards are definitely part of the overall plan. The AHC task force was formed to determine the benefits of the USAIP and the equine-specific standards that need to be developed to conform to USAIP standards should it become mandatory.
The USAIP, which has been described as "still a work in progress" by many, has been developed by the nation's major livestock organizations, with federal and state assistance. These sectors believe that the ability to trace animals quickly in the event of a major animal disease outbreak is vital to ensuring the viability of the nation's enormous animal agriculture industry.
The USAIP is intended to establish a standardized, alpha-numeric system for animal identification. Ensuring animal health in the United States and the ability to market animals are the primary reasons the animal agriculture industry is looking at a national, standardized, identification system. The purpose of such a system is to permit "trace back" within 48 hours of a confirmed diagnosis of an animal disease. Such a system would require the documentation of basic information:
An identification number for each animal that is part of the system;
An identification number for each premises involved in the system; and
The recordation of the location, time and date stamp so that animals could be "traced" in the event of a major disease outbreak.
The task force members in Dallas received reports from several federal and state officials, experts in technology and others who have been involved in drafting the USAIP.
Almost all members of the task force present concluded that there are benefits to the industry in a national ID system for horses. Such benefits include the protection of equine health, the reduction in the number of disease outbreaks, and the ability to limit the effect of outbreaks so that the commercial and recreational segments of the industry could continue to operate both domestically and internationally.
"I was pleased that the equine representatives present also recognized the importance and need for the horse industry to act as a responsible member of the livestock community by working to control and contain disease outbreaks which may threaten other livestock," said Marvin Beeman, DVM, a nationally-recognized veterinarian and AHC Trustee. "The group recognized that many of these goals could be achieved through the timely identification of all horses which can potentially be involved in a disease outbreak."
The task force discussed many of the issues surrounding the formation a national ID plan for horses and their complexity, and formed subcommittees to review in detail the many issues that still need to be examined. It was agreed that recommendations would be presented at the AHC Convention on April 20, 2004.
The subcommittees formed and their purpose include:
- A Horse Identification, ID Number, and Technology Subcommittee to review what identification methods are appropriate and the technology available;
- A Premises ID and Responsibilities Subcommittee to review what premises should be included in any equine tracking system and what responsibilities the premise managers might have;
- A Tracking and Movement Subcommittee to recommend what movements of horses should be tracked and how; and
- A Communications Subcommittee to develop media and educational materials on a national plan for the equine industry.
The task force also recommended that existing identification programs of horse organizations be incorporated into the national ID program as much as possible.
"The task force recommended that its members be recognized by the USAIP as the Species Working Group for equines," said Amy Mann, who is the AHC Director of Health and Regulatory Affairs and has been monitoring the USAIP for some time. "All initiatives for identifying livestock through the USAIP have come from Species Working groups that have formulated identification plans that will assist in animal disease management in their species," Mann noted.
"It is important that the AHC task force members, as representatives of the horse industry, be directly involved in this process. Our designation as the Equine Species Working Group will ensure that the industry is involved. We anticipate that the Equine Species Working Group will be mostly composed of many of the members of the task force and will continue its work to date. We must carefully study all aspects of the issue of equine identification in disease management to protect our U.S. horses and allow commerce to continue and our markets to remain open in the event of a disease outbreak," she said. It is expected that other individuals representing USDA, state officials and other stakeholders will be invited to participate on the Species Working Group.
The AHC task force consists of representatives from the American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Endurance Ride Conference, American Miniature Horse Association, American Paint Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association, American Saddlebred Horse Association, Arabian Horse Association, Back Country Horsemen of America, California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Harness Tracks of America, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Mersant International Ltd., NA/WPN - Dutch Warmblood Studbook in North America, National Cutting Horse Association, National Reining Horse Association, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Palomino Horse Breeders of America, Paso Fino Horse Association, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association, The Jockey Club, The National HBPA, the Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association, Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, U.S. Trotting Association, U.S. Equestrian Federation, U. S. Equestrian Team, and the Western Stock Show Association.