|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
September 08, 2004
First step is to identify every premise that handles livestock and poultry
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In an ongoing effort to ensure safety in the food supply, the state Department of Agriculture has begun the difficult, but important task of identifying every farm, feedlot, sales barn and slaughter facility in Illinois that handles food animals. It is the first step toward the implementation of a national animal identification system that will enable livestock and poultry to be rapidly traced from the farm to the dinner fork.
“Time is a critical factor in containing animal disease outbreaks and preventing food-borne illnesses,” Dr. Colleen O’Keefe, the department’s division manager of Food Safety and Animal Protection, said. “The rapid identification of infected animals and contaminated food products minimizes farmers’ financial losses and protects human lives. This system, when fully operational, will enable animals and premises that have been exposed to a disease to be identified within 48 hours of the disease’s discovery.”
The department has established an online registration process to identify food animal facilities. It takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and consists of a short application that asks for a facility’s street and mailing addresses, its phone number, a description of its operation and the animal species it handles. Menus are provided to ease the process and ensure similar facilities are categorized the same way. After the form is submitted, the facility will be issued a federal premise identification number.
The online application is posted on the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s website at www.agr.state.il.us. Mail and telephone registration also are available. Applicants should either write to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Animal Health, P.O. Box 19281, Springfield, Ill., 62794, or call toll-free (800) 273-4763.
“Strong collaboration among farmers, farm organizations, meat packers and state animal health officials will be required to meet our goal of identifying every food animal facility by Sept. 1, 2005,” Dr. O’Keefe said. “We’ve been working closely with industry groups to create this system, and plan to meet Sept. 16 to discuss outreach efforts that they can make to encourage their members to apply.”
Illinois is part of a five-state consortium that will develop and implement the national animal identification system in the Great Lakes region. Other participating states are Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
A $130,000 grant from the USDA is paying for the registration of livestock and poultry premises in Illinois.