Wisconsin Assembly and Senate Committees Hear Testimony on Animal ID Bill
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Both the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Rural Development and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions heard public testimony last week on a proposed Animal Identification Bill. Assembly Bill 95.185 and corresponding Senate Bill 737 relate to creating a voluntary individual animal identification program and granting rule-making authority.

Keith York, dairy farmer and WLIC Board Chair, testified in favor of the Bill for these three reasons: to protect the ability to market his products, both milk and meat, to add value to his products, and to expand markets for his products.

York noted how traceability helps his farm. “There are two ways I may lose my ability to sell my products to the market - a disease outbreak or a food recall. In both of these cases the amount of time it takes to solve the problem is critical to my being able to market my products. If I have records that show where my products came from, and are available within minutes instead of days or months, the chances of our farm having to stop marketing our products are greatly reduced.

“Traceability systems (including premises registration and animal ID) streamline farmers ability to work with supply chain partners, strengthens brand equity and market access, captures more value and reduces risk in the case of a food recall by assuring the safety of the food that I produce. Traceability is much more than putting an RFID (radio frequency identification) tag on an animal. It’s the ability to access all information pertaining to our products. This increases transparency to consumers and this allows us to build trust, which lets us grow demand for our products. This is how it adds value. Consumers increasingly want to know where their food comes from and this gives us the ability to let them know.”

Dr. Lynn Schultz, retired veterinarian and WLIC Board Member, also testified, “this voluntary individual livestock identification program is a progressive step forward in protecting Wisconsin animal agriculture by helping to ensure livestock animal health, by improving Animal Disease Traceability, supporting economic well-being for agriculture reliant communities, assuring market access for our livestock origin products destined for domestic and export markets, and maintaining consumer confidence and trust in Wisconsin-origin livestock products.

“This is a ‘nuts and bolts’ bill that facilitates the transition to faster, more efficient and accurate mechanisms of tracing livestock movements. Because RFID tags can be scanned and read by digital reading devices (such as handheld wands and stationary panel type readers), the required time to manipulate an animal’s head to manually read a small government official metal tag is bypassed. The unique 15 -digit official RFID (“840”) number can be immediately scanned and that unique number recorded and sent by blue tooth technology to a computer, tablet or smartphone. Not only does this method improve speed and accuracy of identifying individual animals, it also eliminates potential human injury while handling an animal’s head, along with possible human errors in reading and writing down the small 15-digit numbers and letters of the old government official tags still used routinely today.”

The Assembly Bill has already passed the Executive Committee and could be scheduled on the Assembly Floor later this month. If passed, it moves on to the Senate in March. Provide your comments on the Bill by visiting: https://legis.wisconsin.gov/ .

To read the Bill text:

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