Signaling its significance to the ability of the United States to keep pace with international competitors in pork markets, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is urging Congress to restore funding for a national animal identification system (NAIS).

Funding was stripped for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s NAIS by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week in the fiscal year 2011 agriculture funding bill. The House Appropriations agriculture subcommittee has also “zeroed out” funding the ID system. President Obama had requested $14.2 million for the program.

NPPC supports a mandatory national ID system for appropriate species and is asking that lawmakers restore funding back into the agriculture appropriations bill for the NAIS.

The rapid expansion of international meat trade and recent disease outbreaks has sparked interest in animal traceback systems among foreign customers. A number of countries have been moving to implement their own ID programs.

The absence of a mandatory animal identification system and the ability to trace livestock movements, says NPPC, will place the U.S. livestock industry as a competitive disadvantage in international markets. Mandatory animal ID systems in foreign markets could also become major trade barriers for U.S. pork exports.