MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner
Charles H. Bronson has launched a historic pilot project with the Seminole
Tribe of Florida that will track cattle from birth to grocery stores.
Bronson will meet with representatives of the Seminole Tribe at Brighton
Indian Reservation near the town of Moore Haven for a demonstration of the
project on Thursday, March 31, at 11 a.m.
The project involves putting electronic tags on about 10,000 head of cattle
so they can be traced throughout their lifetime. The tags will allow
officials to trace the movement of any animal diagnosed with certain
communicable diseases, including BSE and foot-and-mouth, disease within 48
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stepped up its efforts
to create a national animal identification program when a cow in Washington
state tested positive in December 2003 for bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE), widely referred to as "mad cow disease." The cow was traced back to
Canada and no additional cattle have tested positive for BSE in the United
States since then. However, a lack of a national animal ID system made it
more difficult to quickly determine exactly where the infected cow had been
to find out if other cows in herds where the animal had been located were
also infected. The USDA has been working with various states on pilot
animal ID projects which will be used to assist in developing a national
The project is being funded by a USDA grant of $95,600. The Florida
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services participated in a
cooperative training program for Seminole Tribe herd owners in mid-February
to introduce the new ID system.
Proponents of animal identification systems say they will improve consumer
confidence in the domestic market and assist in maintaining and opening
international markets for U.S. beef. Animal identification is voluntary
but may be required by the federal government by 2007.