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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU co-hosts informal meeting on USDA's National Animal Identification System

ALBUQUERQUE -- New Mexico State University recently welcomed officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, representatives from tribal colleges and universities, community-based organizations, state officials and livestock producers for a meeting held to forge partnerships for outreach and education on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) within Native American communities.

The three-day conference earlier this month, co-hosted by NMSU, Diné College, Navajo Technical College and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), gave participants an opportunity to learn more about NAIS, as well as to jointly develop NAIS outreach strategies tailored to the needs of Native American producers.

"This meeting was a good opportunity for the Native American livestock producer to learn more about NAIS and how it could benefit them," said Paul Gutierrez, NMSU vice provost for Outreach Services and associate director and associate dean of NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, who helped coordinate the meeting.

NAIS is a modern, streamlined information system that helps producers and animal health officials respond quickly and effectively to animal health events in the United States. NAIS utilizes premises registration, animal identification and animal tracing components to both locate potentially diseased animals and eliminate animals from disease suspicion. It is a state-federal-industry partnership, which is voluntary at the federal level. For more information on NAIS, visit www.usda.gov/nais.

"We welcomed the opportunity to meet with tribal leaders from across the country and greatly appreciate their advice and counsel on how we can work together to reach out to the Native American community," said Bruce Knight, undersecretary for USDA's marketing and regulatory programs mission area. "NAIS works best when it is shaped by those who participate in the program, and our tribal producers are an important part of our continued success."

Native Americans from New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Michigan, Nevada, Nebraska, Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, Texas, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Oregon, Tennessee, Idaho and California were present at the meetings. They indicated there are many misconceptions and challenges involved while encouraging tribal members to voluntarily register their livestock premises.

The main concerns include being in the forefront with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as the various agencies work together to address issues and a need to increase funding specifically for Indian Country.
Among the items agreed upon, in regard to the tribal agencies wanting to be kept informed, the USDA representatives plan to establish a monthly newsletter to keep them abreast of funding opportunities and other activities regarding the NAIS.