The U.S. is extremely vulnerable to unforeseen situations, such as foreign animal disease outbreaks, according to presentations at the recent
National Institute of Animal Agriculture's
(NIAA) Annual Conference in Denver. WLIC attended the three-day conference, held April 10-12, which focused on the importance of animal traceability.
While disease outbreak is an important reason to have national traceability standards, the conference also focused on the importance of a traceability system for the export market.
"In 2017, the U.S. exported 2.8 billion pounds of beef, pork and other proteins, amounting to more than $7.3 billion dollars," said Thad Lively, of the U.S. Meat Federation, a non-profit organization that oversees trade interests for beef, pork and other industries.
The U.S. is number three of the top 10 exporters, with Brazil and Australia at number one and two. The U.S. currently does not have mandatory traceability, unlike almost all other export countries. Many of the import countries require traceability, especially China, who requires both export and import traceability, Lively told the crowd.
Producers, markets, state vets and others who attended the conference discussed the need for traceability in the U.S. and how both the export market requirements and the consumer's expectation will drive the issue forward.
"If there were a disease outbreak in the U.S.," said Lively, "the process of re-opening foreign markets would be that much more difficult, not to mention the decline in consumer confidence."
Other presentations included the role consumers will play in the issue of traceability in the U.S. moving forward. According to those representing Angus Beef, 69 percent of consumers want more information about where their food comes from, and have the expectation that we can trace our products back to the farm of origin.