The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) needs more focus and direction before livestock producers will accept it.

That was the opinion of more than 80% of participants at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s (NIAA) ID-Info-Expo 2006 in Kansas City, MO, who suggested that the program is behind expectations. More than 78% of the 100 respondents indicated NAIS should be a mandatory program.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, in his Aug. 23-keynote address at the NIAA meeting, stressed the program will remain voluntary under his jurisdiction. He believes the marketplace will push implementation of NAIS through premium opportunities for producers.

Cost and confidentiality were named as two of the biggest obstacles to adopting NAIS.

Johanns said data collected through private data management companies would be kept confidential and used only if there was a disease outbreak.

NAIS was developed by the Agriculture Department in 2004 to help safeguard the health of U.S. livestock. The goal is to have 100% of premises registered by January 2009, according to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. In mid-August, 297,000 premises were registered.

To learn more about NAIS, go to www.usda.gov. To learn more about the NIAA survey, go to www.animalagriculture.org