USDA HANDBOOK addresses Farmers as Uneducated


Points For Opposing Animal ID

Export Myths and Fairytales

NASS Survey Information

ARAPA Statement to the Senate Ag Committee

Codex Alimentarius


Sound Science Killing Us

What Can I Do?


What are the vets saying?


Congressmen Speak Out

International Entanglements

What is COOL?

Mad Cow Madness




Important Links


Photos From Conway Meeting



Corporate Hostile Takeover

What About The Amish?


How do Packers fit in?

The Real Reason for Animal ID


Endangered Property Rights

Organic & Grassfed Growers Also Affected

DATABASES - How Safe Are They?

Wake Up, Farmers!



Technology Behind NAIS


NIAA Conference Reports

Pushing Us Off Our Farms

Ag Lawyer Responds to the NAIS



Uncle Sam Wants YOUR Animals!



What is REAL ID?


Animal ID Problems in Other Countries

Farm Bureau Connection

NAIS Threatens Rare Breeds

RFID Tags - Good, Bad & Ugly


Retired Army Colonel Rebuts NAIS

Equine Species Working Group Contacts



SCRAPIE ID for Goats/Sheep & the NAIS

NAIS ID Terminology



The Plan is AGENDA 21

4-H, FFA Targeted at Fairs


Leon's Story - Chipped Dog Died From Cancer


Protection From Terrorist Livestock



TRUTH about Foot & Mouth Vaccines






Bird Flu Fowl Play






NAIS and Horses – A Timeline of the Inclusion of Horses in NAIS 2002 through 2006

By Karen Nowak


Copyright 2007 by Karen Nowak.  The following article may be distributed solely for personal and non-commercial use without prior permission from the author, as long as proper credit is given.  Any other distribution or republication requires the author's permission in writing.  Requests for such permission should be directed to the author at the address/phone/e-mail address below.

Karen Nowak

PO Box 260

Brookfield, NY 13314



The issue of national equine ID has been discussed between animal health officials since at least 1987 but did NOT involve any organization representing the actual horse owning public until 2002.  The purpose of this lengthy article is to provide a reference document for the evolution of the plan to include equines in the National Animal Identification System.  A “timeline of events” from 2002 through 2006.  The inclusion of numerous quotes from actual organizational and government documents is quite deliberate.  Those of us who oppose this plan are frequently accused of spreading “misinformation” by the groups who have developed and promote the NAIS.  This document allows their own words and actions speak for themselves!


A committee of representatives from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Infectious Diseases Subcommittee on ID, the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) Equine Infectious Diseases Committee and USAHA Livestock ID Committee plus the National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA) Livestock ID Committee planned an Equine ID Symposium to be held sometime between the already scheduled 1994 and 1998 NIAA ID Symposium.  No record has been found that an Equine ID Symposium was actually held during that time frame.


At the Livestock Conservation, Inc (later reorganized as the NIAA) National Farm Animal Identification Symposium in 1998, 3 species groups were created to species-specific issues and needs.  These groups were cattle, swine and “other species” (sheep, goats, horses and llamas).  The members of these species groups are not identified, however, not a single equine organization is quoted in any of the LCI documents from that symposium.


Reading the membership of the NIAA is like reading a “Who’s Who” of corporate agribusiness, animal health officials, animal ID and software tracking companies.  There is very little representation of the small farmer.




In early 2002, Dr. Timothy Cordes from the United States Dept of Agriculture (USDA), Veterinary Services Division, announced that an Equine ID Symposium was scheduled for July 2002.  To their credit, upon hearing this announcement, the American Horse Council (AHC) decided the Horse Industry MUST be involved in this symposium.  It is unclear who and how many of the equine related and breed organizations were notified of this pending symposium, but an attempt was made to have representatives of at least some of these organizations present. 


Position statements regarding their stance on a national Equine ID Program were made by the following people/organizations at this symposium:

Amy Mann – American Horse Council

Dr. Tom Lenz – American Association of Equine Practitioners

Dr. Cheryll Frank – USA Equestrian (now known as the US Equestrian Federation)

Ward Stutz – American Quarter Horse Association

Buddy Bishop and Rick Bailey – The Jockey Club

Bob Luehrman – United States Trotting Association

Jim Garrison – Arabian Horse Registry of America

Lili Thomas – BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program

Dr. Mary Giddens – Dutch Warmblood Studbook in North America
Jim Kelley - American Paint Horse Association
Tom Pettry – American Saddlebred Horse Association
Paul Berube and Jim Gowen - Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau

Transcripts of all of the above presentations EXCEPT for the American Paint Horse Association and the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau were obtained. 


The following four people/organizations communicated a clear pro-National Equine ID Program stance:

Dr. Tom Lenz – American Association of Equine Practitioners

Ward Stutz – American Quarter Horse Association

Lili Thomas – BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program

Dr. Mary Giddens – Dutch Warmblood Studbook in North America

Amy Mann of the American Horse Council communicated a technically neutral stance, however, within a few short months the AHC’s pro-NAIS stance became quite clear.

The main objective for the two day Equine ID Symposium was to have participants consider an identification system that (a) would not endorse a specific modality, but (b) would provide for unique and permanent alpha-numeric (computer-compatible) identification for each horse/mule/donkey in the USA.

The objectives of the second day were for participants to share their views about a potential national equine ID system, focusing on the positive aspects of such a system, the issues to resolve and how to proceed when this session is over.

The positive aspects identified were:

1) Traceability of horses to allow owners, breed registries and government to track the movements of horses in cases of theft or loss, genetics and performance, and disease tracking respectively. 

2) Trade enhancement to help assure trading partners of genetics, performance and health. 

3) Integrity of Information to help prevent fraud and help in recovery of animals in cases of theft and natural disasters.

4) Accurate Census to help with national census of animals by breed, location, etc.


A total of 48 issues were identified that would need to be resolved with respect to a national Equine ID Program.  Aside from the obvious issues of cost, database control, confidentiality and incentives for horse owners/organizations was a clear intent that a campaign would need to be undertaken to educate the horse owning public about the program and that a feasibility study should be done.  As I read through the twelve page summary of the results of the discussion by the actual equine organization representatives, I realized they were right on track. 


What happened if they were so on track?
 At the end of the symposium, Glenn Slack, then President and CEO of the NIAA, asked the Equine Industry representatives the following question:  “Is Equine ID something that needs to be discussed beyond this meeting today?”  Seven of the twelve participants voted yes and five voted no.


Three key decisions were made by the NIAA at the end of this symposium:

1.  It was decided that the NIAA would establish a study group (to include representatives of industry organizations, the veterinary profession, government and other interested groups) to determine a direction for a national equine identification system

2. The NIAA would report on this issue at the USAHA, AAEP meetings (and other meetings as needed) and will be responsible for championing the study group mentioned above.  A report-out will be given at the USAHA meeting in October, but no concrete recommendations/action steps will be presented at that time.

3. Concrete recommendations/action steps to be given at the next national NIAA meeting in April 2003.


A follow up conference call by the Equine ID Symposium Planning Committee was held in September 2002.  It was decided that a Study Group be established and that J Amelita Facchiano chair that Study Group.  It is important to note that Ms Facchiano was not a representative of any official equine organization or breed registry.  She was well known as an advocate of Equine ID for the prevention of horse theft.  In addition, she was the Director of Sales and Marketing for GlobalVetLink, LLC, the corporation who developed electronic certificates for veterinary inspection and whose employer was a corporate member of the NIAA.


The USAHA annual meeting was held in October 2002.  There is NO mention in the proceedings that the NIAA reported on the July 2002 Equine ID Symposium as had been previously decided.  The National Identification Work Plan was presented, which did NOT include horses.


 In November 2002, the NIAA established the Equine ID Subcommittee as part of the existing Animal ID and Information Systems Committee.  Amy Mann of the AHC was appointed chair and J Amelita Facchiano, co-chair. 

Members of the first official NIAA Equine ID Subcommittee were as follows:


Chair:  Amy W. Mann, American Horse Council

Vice Chair:  J. Amelita Facchiano, GlobalVetLink, LLC

Committee Members:

Coffman, Leroy, Florida Department of Agriculture

Fischer, Glenn, Allflex USA

Fourdraine, Robert, Holstein Association USA

Goldberg, Marty, RMS Research Management Systems, USA, Inc.

Halstead, Steve, Michigan Department of Agriculture

Hammerschmidt, Neil, Wisconsin Livestock ID Consortium

Hwang, Kathleen, EZ-ID/ AVID ID Systems

Jordan, Karen, Dairy Farmers of America

Kelley, Jim, American Paint Horse Association

Marsh, Gary, CowTek, Inc.

Marsh, Stu, Farnam Companies

Mortensen, Ky, American Association of Equine Practitioners

Neale, Spencer, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation

Niedecken, Tim, eMerge Interactive

Notter, Don, Kentucky Department of Agriculture

Owen, Kevin, Digital Angel & Electronic ID

Wade, John, AVID Equine ID


It is disheartening to read that a full 50% of the committee members represented companies who sell animal ID and/or tracking software while only ONE equine breed registry and only ONE equine association were represented.  Of the remaining seven members, two represented the dairy industry (who already participates in an ID program) and the remaining five members were animal health officials, who clearly indicated a desire for a national Equine ID program.  The question that begs an answer is: “Was this initial effort spearheaded by those who stood to gain financially if such a system were put in place?” Clearly the needs and concerns of the equine industry as a whole were not fairly represented by this committee!




The confusion continues in an AHC Press Release from January 22, 2003 titled “Equine Identification”.  It states “The issue of a national horse identification system has been discussed in various corners of the horse industry for years, but it wasn’t until the American Horse Council’s 2002 convention that the issue made its way to the industry’s national attention.”  


“Its sudden rise to importance resulted from a distinct change in the direction of the discussion over equine ID.  These discussions had moved away from a focus on monitoring the options available for identifying horses, such as use of lip tattoos, freeze branding, or electronic ID chips, to one of emphasizing the need for a national identification system using electronic chips and a national alpha-numeric system.  Supporters of a national identification system maintain that it would benefit the industry making it possible to trace where horses had been in case of a disease outbreak, to prevent horse theft, to help in emergency situations and benefit international trade.”


The most revealing statement of the progression of the inclusion of horses in NAIS may be found in the next paragraph of the AHC press release:

“The horse industry as a whole had never been asked to consider the merit of establishing a national alpha-numeric identification system for horses.  Yet, at a symposium on equine identification systems, held in July, 2002, there was a clear message that a national ID system for horses was being pushed, and pushed hard, at the industry.  It became quite clear at the July meeting that the industry organizations held a strong sentiment that adequate input is needed to determine if a need for such a national system exists.  The industry also insisted that any discussion steer clear of endorsing any specific modality for identification.”


“A focus group of industry representatives was formed as a result of the July symposium.  This group met in January, 2003 with the purpose of looking at whether the potential benefits of a national identification system outweighed the costs and difficulty of instituting one.  That meeting reiterated the feeling in the industry that there is a need for more specific information as to why a national identification system for horses would benefit the industry.”


The first version of the United States Animal Identification Plan, released in November 2002, the same month that the NIAA Equine ID Subcommittee was officially formed, did NOT include horses.  However, version 4.0 of the plan, dated September 29, 2003 DID include horses.  Version 4.0 was presented and approved by the USAHA at their annual meeting, held October 9-16, 2003.


While version 4.0 does not use the word “mandatory, the inference that this is the intent may be drawn from their own timeline:


·          all states have a premises identification system in place by July, 2004; unique, individual or group/lot numbers be available for issuance by February, 2004;

·          all cattle, swine, and small ruminants possess individual or group/lot identification for interstate movement by July, 2005;

·          all animals of the remaining species/industries identified above be in similar compliance by July, 2006.

A review of the minutes from the many organizational meetings during this time frame confirms this.  In every discussion, the theme that a voluntary program is “doomed to fail” is repeated.


An October 2003 Press Release from the AHC titled “National Identification System for Horses Debated at AHC Meeting”, states that “Speakers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and equine organizations continued the discussion at the recent AHC Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.  While no consensus on the need for a national ID system for horses was reached, it was apparent that there is an interest in the industry's continuing to explore the pros-and-cons of such a system.” 


The mystery is who was interested in continuing to explore this and what was their rationale?


Dr. Valerie Ragan, Assistant Deputy Administrator, Veterinary Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is quoted as stating “plans are progressing rapidly at this point in the other livestock sectors.  The focus is "on cattle and swine at the present time because those species are at the highest risks for disease situations.  We are not developing an equine identification system, we are not even there yet,” Yet, further on in her presentation she noted that there are plans "to expand into other sectors, like equine and aquaculture.  Nothing is mandatory at this stage.  We must have a system in place that is tried, and tested and proven and there is a reason for it before it might be made mandatory," she concluded.  "We will be developing this and we encourage you to look at this effort and decide if you want to join in.  We are happy to work with you if you do."


Jim Gowen of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) summed it up best.  The following is a direct quote from the AHC October 2003 Press Release:

"‘I will take the opposing view on national ID,’ said Gowen.  He noted that the TRPB has participated in conferences and discussions regarding this broad area for over a year and has heard from some federal and state officials that the system is supported by ‘the horse industry.’  The term has been used regularly by supporters, ‘but too loosely given the breadth of those involved in the industry, the different types and uses of horses.  Who is calling for and promoting this idea?  It seems to us that at this point it is being pushed by an ad hoc group of individuals with equine business interests who can hardly be called representatives of the industry’, he suggested.


‘In short, we see no compelling reason for a national ID system for horses.  We see no reason to expend further energies on this issue.  But we realize that others have a different view.  For this reason, we believe that any continuing discussions should be within the horse industry itself.  Once this is done, a clearer picture may emerge as to how important National ID actually is,’ Gowen concluded.”


A second press release was issued by the American Horse Council on the same date titled “AHC to Organize Task Force on National ID System for Horses”.  It states “Although there was no consensus reached on the need for a national ID system, there was agreement that the AHC should organize an Equine Identification Task Force to continue to inform, involve and educate the industry about the issues surrounding the potential of a national identification system for horses with the goal of arriving at some consensus.”


“Other livestock groups have been debating the issues surrounding a national identification system for their animals for over ten years and have reached a general consensus that a system is needed.  These other sectors are considering the implementation of a universal system that would be alpha-numeric, permanent, unique, and in addition to and integrated with existing systems already being used.  But the value of any such system to the horse industry, which has different needs and different challenges, has not been fully explored.  That will be one of the purposes of the ID Task Force.”


The following organizations were members of the AHC Equine ID Task Force, created in October 2003:

American Association of Equine Practitioners

American Endurance Ride Conference

American Miniature Horse Association

American Paint Horse Association

American Quarter Horse Association

American Saddlebred Horse Association

Arabian Horse Association

Back Country Horsemen of America

California Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Harness Tracks of America

Kentucky Thoroughbred Association

Mersant International Ltd.(commercial horse transporter, sponsors horse races)

NA/KWPN - Dutch Warmblood Studbook in North America

National Cutting Horse Association

National Reining Horse Association

National Thoroughbred Racing Association

Palomino Horse Breeders of America

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association

The Jockey Club

National Horsemen’s Benevolence & Protective Association (racing industry)

Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association

Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau

US Trotting Association

US Equestrian Federation

Western Stock Show Association


Of interest, while all these meetings and discussions were taking place, nothing was published on the AHC website until December 6, 2003.  It is highly possible that this was quite deliberate, to keep it under the radar from the NIAA.  Last, it is not clear if this information was actually submitted for publication in any horse related publications.


Both of the above quoted press releases were dated October 2003 but it is unclear who they were released to.  They were not published on the AHC website until February 9, 2004.




The AHC Equine ID Task Force met on January 16, 2004 in Los Angeles and again on March 18, 2004 in Dallas Texas.  Four subcommittees were designated:  Horse ID & Technology, Premises ID, Movement & Tracking and Communications.  The AHC Equine ID Task Force evolved into the USAIP Equine Species Work Group in early 2004.


In 2004, twenty-four representatives of horse organizations met with then Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

The results of that meeting were published on May 4, 2004 in an AHC memorandum to “AHC Industry Members”.

The portion of this memo pertaining to NAIS is reprinted below (I have bolded portions of the text for emphasis):


Two dozen horse industry leaders met with Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in her office during the National Issues Forum of the American Horse Council.  The meeting lasted 45 minutes and Secretary Veneman was very interested, engaged and generous with her time.  USDA Under Secretary Bill Hawks, Deputy Under Secretary Floyd Gaibler, and Chief of Staff Dale Moore were also present. The meeting provided the industry representatives with an opportunity to explain to the Secretary and her staff the economic importance of the horse industry; how we are participating in the Department’s initiative to develop a national identification system for livestock; our efforts to make horses eligible for federal disaster assistance; and the importance of the USDA’s upcoming meetings with our European Union trading partners.   

National Animal Identification and the Horse Industry 

Several members of the AHC Task Force on Equine Identification were present and updated the Secretary on the involvement of the horse industry in the Department’s efforts to institute a national ID system for livestock in case of a disease outbreak.

Dan Fick, of The Jockey Club and chair of the Task Force, explained that the horse industry had held several meetings and saw benefits to a national identification system involving the horse industry.  He noted that there were still many critical issues to be considered and resolved.

Dr. Jim Morehead, of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and chair of the Premises ID Subcommittee of the Task Force, explained that one of the many difficult issues to be fleshed out was the definition of a “premises” for the horse industry.  He explained that under the proposed ID system a “premises” for the horse industry could be quite different from that for other livestock groups.  Dr. Morehead noted that there could be many more locations involved and that the Subcommittee was trying to define such locations and identify the potential responsibilities of any “premises manager” under a national identification system.  

Ward Stutz, of the American Quarter Horse Association and chair of the Tracking/Movement Subcommittee, explained that horses move more frequently than other animals and often individually, thus making the task of tracking their movement difficult. 

Dr. Mary Giddens, of the Dutch Warmblood Stud Book in North America and a member of the ID Number and Technology Subcommittee, explained that the industry was trying to determine what numbers could be used for the national system, noting that the Universal Equine Life Number was certainly part of the mix. 

Amy Mann, of the AHC, also noted that the cost of a national identification system would be considerable.  She suggested that federal funds to assist livestock sectors to set up and operate a system would be essential to any program’s success. 

The Secretary expressed appreciation for the industry’s involvement.  She agreed that there seemed to be confusion among some horse owners about the ID system, noting that many of the comments that the USDA had received from horse owners on the national animal identification plan indicated a misunderstanding as to what was being proposed.  Secretary Veneman also said that a voluntary system would be initiated before a mandatory system was instituted by USDA.  The Secretary also noted that confidentiality was a primary concern of the Department, as was cost and funding.“


I was stunned when I read this for who knew the USDA was soliciting comments from horse owners in 2004?  At that time I subscribed to no less than 5 national horse magazines and 2 farming publications and not once did I read anything about horses and NAIS!


At the end of the memo is a listing of the “industry leaders” who were present for the meeting with Secretary Veneman:

Jim Barton - American Quarter Horse Association – AHC Trustee
Dr. Marvin Beeman - American Association of Equine Practitioners – AHC Trustee
Dr. Jerry Black – American Association of Equine Practitioners – AHC Trustee
Dr. Larry Bramlage - American Association of Equine Practitioners
Tim Case - American Quarter Horse Association
Dan Fick - The Jockey Club
David Foley – Ex. Director - American Association of Equine Practitioners
Dr. Mary Giddens - Dutch Warmblood Stud Book in North America
Jay Hickey – President – American Horse Council
Amy Mann – Director of Health and Reg. Affairs – American Horse Council
Dr. Jim Morehead - American Association of Equine Practitioners
Fred Noe – Executive Vice President – US Trotting Association
Cindy Schonholtz - Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
Jim Shoemake – American Quarter Horse Association – AHC Trustee
Eric Strauss – US Equestrian Federation – AHC Trustee
Ward Stutz - American Quarter Horse Association
David Switzer – Kentucky Thoroughbred Association
Dr. Peter Timmoney – Dept. of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky
Scoop Vessels - American Quarter Horse Association
Jerry Windham - American Quarter Horse Association – AHC Trust

It is more than apparent that the only individuals who were aware of NAIS, much less how far it had progressed, were members of the American Horse Council.

In May of 2004, Amy Mann presented the Equine Species Working Group report at the NIAA ID Info Expo.

Ms Mann listed the following benefits of a national equine ID system for the Horse Industry:


· Reduce potential effect and enhance control of equine disease outbreaks.

· Maintain equine commerce and movement of horses in the case of a disease outbreak.

· Assist equestrian events in ensuring a healthy environment for participating horses.

· Expedite recovery and identification of horses in case of loss due to natural disaster, theft or accident.

· Facilitate import and export of equines.

· Uphold the horse industry as a responsible member of the livestock community.

· Enhance the permanent identification of horses and assist in tracking ownership.


Ms Mann made it quite clear that the US Horse Industry should develop the national ID plan for horses.


She presented a list of what movements may need to be tracked:

· Interstate Commerce

· When Health Certificates are required.

· When horses go to:


  Horse Shows

  Horse Auctions

  Trail Rides


  Arena Events


  Veterinary Clinics


The issue of where the database should be kept was also discussed with no final answer.  Areas being explored were the national USAIP database, a centralized equine database developed by the Equine Industry itself, breed registries, performance databases and finally the possible need to create a non-registered horse registry for those not registered through a breed organization.  The issue of the large number of unregistered horses/horses sold without papers, and therefore no official identification, has apparently been a driving force behind the initial question of whether or not horses needed to be included in a national database.


The issues of cost and who will pay for this system were raised without any definitive answer in writing.

She concluded her presentation by stating that the Horse ID & Technology, Premises ID, Movement & Tracking, and Communications subcommittees would continue to address agendas and that they plan to develop project proposal on May 25, 2004.

The next Equine Species Working Group Meeting was scheduled for June 21-22, 2004 in Dallas/Ft. Worth.


In August 2004, the American Horse Council’s Equine ID Task Force/USAIP Equine Species Working became the USDA Equine Species Working Group.


In December of 2004, the ESWG submitted their first set of recommendations to the USDA regarding horses in the NAIS:

Recommendation #1:  All horses are susceptible to equine infectious diseases.  Any horses that are transported interstate, or commingled with other horses or livestock intrastate must be identified with an official form of identification.


Recommendation #2: Any national or state equine identification program should be voluntary in the initial implementation period to insure the opportunity to properly test the components of the system, and allow sufficient time for an educational campaign on the parameters and benefits of the program to increase participation. Provided FOIA issues are resolved to industry satisfaction, mandatory equine identification should not be implemented before 2010 unless events necessitate earlier compliance.


Recommendation #3: Horses are livestock, and should be held to the same standards as other livestock species. However, the USDA must recognize the unique characteristics of the equine industry in the development of NAIS. With respect to the other species in the NAIS, horses are different. Case in point, horses:


• Have longest life expectancy of livestock species (20 –35 years).

Are generally more valuable on an individual basis.

Are transported more often and for greater distances.

Participate in internationally recognized competitions including the Olympics.

Require accurate identification to insure the integrity of a multi-billion dollar racing industry with state regulated pari-

                mutual wagering.

Are imported and exported on a regularly basis at significant expense.

Are at great risk of theft.

• And, are in many instances already properly identified by the appropriate breed registry or horse identification



Recommendation #4:  The components of a national horse identification program which provides for horse identification, traceability and trace-back should provide definitive benefits to equine industry that justify the costs to stakeholders.


Recommendation #5: In order to have the option to have a national equine identification program that is internationally compatible and especially with Canada and Mexico, the ESWG must work in close cooperation with the Animal Identification Number (AIN) Managers for equines. The appropriate equine registries and other databases recording the identification of equines should be designated as AIN distributors, and immediately notified when an AIN is assigned to a specific equine.


Recommendation #6:  Horse identification data/information must be kept confidential and exempt from current FOIA requirements including a FOIA exemption to block data from passing among varied governmental agencies.  Only approved federal and state animal health authorities will have access to any state or federally managed database where the NAIS information essential to the enhancement of animal disease surveillance and monitoring is maintained.


Recommendation #7:  Definition of Equine Premises:  An equine premise is an identifiable physical location that represents a unique and describable geographic location where horses are boarded, stabled, or kept with other horses.


Recommendation #8:  The identification of certain equine premises is at a higher priority with respect to potential for disease transmission, and therefore requires greater disease monitoring and surveillance. The following list is prioritized to represent equine premises for reporting purposes, including but not limited to:


•Ports of Entry

•Quarantine Facilities

•Auctions and Sales

•Breeding Farms

•Boarding Facilities

•Training Facilities

•Equine Clinics and Hospitals


•Show/Exhibition/Competition Facilities

•Public and Private Stables

•Rodeo Arenas


•National or State Parks

•Universities (Educational/Research Facilities/Diagnostic Laboratories)

•Ports of Exit

•Dude Ranches


Recommendation #9:  The premises manager is the owner or his/her designee who is responsible for recording and reporting the identification of horses moved onto or off of the premises; and must submit the necessary information (premises identification, horse identification numbers, time and date of entry and exit, and event code) to the national database in a timely basis as designated by USDA NAIS.  The premises manager must submit the information to the national database within 24 hours of being notified of a disease outbreak that threatens horses.


Recommendation #10:  When horses are transported interstate, intrastate when commingled with other horses or livestock, or to premises or events where a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) or other equine health papers such as Coggins are required, the movement must be reported to the appropriate USDA NAIS database(s).


Recommendation #11:  To enhance disease surveillance through a successful identification and tracking program, standardized requirements for Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) must be established among the states.  At the time of veterinary inspection, any horse that has not been previously identified or assigned an Animal Identification Number shall be identified with an official form of identification that includes the animal identification number, any electronic identification and a more complete description of the horse’s coat color, white markings, any unique identifying marks including cowlicks, brands and tattoos; and whenever possible, digital photographs.


Recommendation #12: Those with inquiries, recommendations or grant proposals pertaining to a national equine identification program should be encouraged to contact to the Equine Species Working Group for collaboration.


Recommendation #13:  Whenever appropriate, equine identification systems currently in use should be incorporated into the national equine identification program. All equine identification technologies shall be immediately readable, modality neutral, computer compatible and be unique to and an integral part of the horse, including but not limited to:


•Brands that identify a specific horse

•Lip Tattoo

•RFID (radio frequency identification devices)


Microchips are a cost efficient, readily available equine identification method already in use in equines.  Existing microchip technologies should be incorporated into the NAIS for equines.  New technologies in ISO compliant microchips may be more easily associated with the Animal Identification Number, but should not be introduced without a sufficient inventory to meet demand and the corresponding distribution of compatible, ISO compliant microchip readers.


Recommendation #14: New technologies should be pursued and researched to provide more efficient, cost effective and accurate methods of equine identification, i.e., Biometrics, DNA Testing, etc.


Recommendation #15: To ensure that the horse owners and industry stakeholders do not unduly bear the costs of the development and implementation of a national equine identification program, the USDA should provide adequate funding in 2005-2006 for cooperative agreements with states and tribes that include equine field trials recommended by the ESWG, and adequate funding in 2006-2007 for assistance to begin implementation of the National Equine Identification Program.


Recommendation #16: The ESWG should be allowed to contract with a consortium of horse industry stakeholders to design, develop and maintain an independent equine industry database for equine data/information necessary to provide horse identification, traceability and trace-back capabilities for the NAIS.




On May 6, 2005 the USDA published the NAIS Draft Strategic Plan and Draft Program Standards in the Federal Register.  Now the intent for a mandatory system is clear:

Key milestones:

• July 2005: All States capable of premises registration.

• July 2005: Animal Identification Number system operational.

• April 2007: Premises registration and animal identification “alerts”.

• January 2008: Premises registration and animal identification required.

• January 2009: Reporting of defined animal movements required; entire program mandatory.


On May 25, 2005, the ESWG submitted their second set of recommendations to the USDA regarding horses in the NAIS.

They were identical to the December 2004 recommendations EXCEPT recommendation 13 was changed as follows:

Recommendation #13:  Whenever appropriate, equine identification systems currently in use should be incorporated into the national equine identification program, especially radio frequency identification devices (RFID), normally microchips. Existing microchips should be incorporated into the NAIS for equines.


From this date forward, the ISO/ANSI compatible RFID chip (11784/85, 134.2 kHz) is the recommended standard of electronic equine identification for the purpose of disease control for the uniformity and compatibility necessary to successfully achieve the goals of the USDA National Animal Identification System.


The recommended implantation site for the microchip is the nuchal ligament on the left side, in the middle third of the neck, halfway between the ears and the withers.


Suppliers of RFID readers and scanners should make an immediate effort to provide readers and scanners for distribution to the U.S. animal identification industry to read the ISO 11784/17785 livestock microchips, and read or at least detect all 125 kHz frequency companion animal microchips.”


AND a 17th recommendation was added:

Recommendation #17: The buyer and seller shall mutually be responsible to report any change of ownership of an equine to the appropriate equine registries and other databases recording the identification of equines.”


It is important to note that microchips CURRENTLY used in the US for Equine ID are the 125kHz frequency, NOT the frequency now recommended by the ESWG.


In July of 2005 the AHC listed the new members of the ESWG on their website:

Mr. Alan Balch American Saddlebred Horse Association  
Dr. Marvin Beeman, co-chair ESWG, Vet & horseman, past President of AAEP, also on the Board of the AHC but is not listed as representing them.
Mr. Remi Bellocq The National H.B.P.A., Inc. (National Horsemen’s Benevolence & Protective Association - racing)  
Mr. Doug Burge California Thoroughbred Breeders Assn.  
Ms. Cindy Chilton Palomino Horse Breeders of America  
Dr. Tim Cordes USDA/APHIS/VS  
Mr. Paul Estok Harness Tracks of America  
J.Amelita Facchiano USDA/APHIS/VS/CEAH 
Mr. Dan Fick, co-chair ESWG, The Jockey Club  
L. B. Fleming, DVM American Endurance Ride Conference  
Mr. Alan Foreman Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations, Inc. (deals with racing commissions for states) 
Ms. Debbie Fuentes Arabian Horse Association  
Dr. Pete Gibbs Texas A&M University

Dr. Mary Giddens NA/KWPN    
Mr. Jim Gowen Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau  
Dr. Nancy Halpern New Jersey Dept. of Agriculture 
Dr. Steven Halstead Michigan Department of Agriculture 
Mr. Neil Hammerschmidt USDA/APHIS/VS 
Dr. James Heird Colorado State University  
Ms. Peggy Hendershot National Thoroughbred Racing Association  
Mr. James Hickey American Horse Council 
Mr. Alan Hill Back Country Horsemen of America  
Mr. Jeff Hooper National Cutting Horse Association  
Mr. Charles Hulsey Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association

Ms. Bonnie B. Jenkins U. S. Equestrian Team  
Dr. Albert Kane USDA/APHIS/VS 

Mr. Jim Kelley  American Paint Horse Association    
Dr. Maxwell Lea, Jr. Louisiana State Veterinarian 
Mr. Bob Luehrman U. S. Trotting Association  
Ms. Amy Mann, co-chair ESWG, American Horse Council 
Mr. C. J. Marcello, Jr. Paso Fino Horse Association  
Mr. Dan Metzger Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association  
Dr. Jim Morehead American Association of Equine Practitioners

Ms. Lori Rawls U. S. Equestrian Team
Mr. Joe Santarelli Mersant International Ltd. (sponsors races, transports horses) 
Ms. Cindy Schonholtz American Youth Horse Council  

Dr. Billy Smith American Quarter Horse Association  
Dr. Bob Stout Kentucky Department of Agriculture  
Mr. Ward Stutz American Quarter Horse Association  
Mr. David Switzer Kentucky Thoroughbred Association  
Mr. Dan Wall National Reining Horse Association    
Ms. Christine White Michigan Office of Racing Commissioner


Notice the heavy representation of the racing industry?  I certainly did!  My question, since this group was first formed, was why the heavy representation of the racing industry?  The AHC’s own statistics prove they are NOT the majority of the horse owners in this country.  The American Horse Council’s “The Economic Impact of the Equine Industry” documents an equine census of 9.2 million horses.  Of these horses, 9% are used for racing, 29% for showing, 42% for recreation and 19% for other (ranching, commercial use, etc).  Their rationale cannot be economic either.  Their own study documents that in terms of jobs and contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), racing accounts for 26%, showing 28%, recreation 31% and other 14%.  Separating out the number of jobs in the equine industry does not support this unequal representation.  Racing contributes to 27% of the jobs, while showing contributes 27%, recreation 31% and other 15%. It is clear that the largest group of horse owners have essentially NO representation whatsoever.


In addition, another important segment of our society of horse owners have been totally ignored – the people who practice “plain faiths” (e.g.: the Amish).  The Amish sect has members living in 20 states in the USA.  Horses are a vital part of their everyday life for transportation, farming, etc.  NAIS is a clear violation of their constitutional right of freedom of religion under the first amendment.  The economic burden on this group would be enormous.  That such a large group of individuals, for whom NAIS would threaten their very way of life, is a disgrace!


So why the heavy representation of the racing industry?  Part of the answer may be found in reviewing the legislative issues the American Horse Council was involved with at the time.  The advent of internet and off shore gambling was taking a toll on the horse racing industry.  The AHC was lobbying hard for legislation that would protect and benefit the US racing industry. 


The other part of the answer may be found in reviewing the composition of the AHC itself.  Seventy-one percent of the AHC Board of Directors have direct ties to the racing industry.  Sixty-eight, or 42%, of the organizations who are members of the AHC directly represent the racing industry. 


While unfair to the rest of the horse owning public, it is easy to see why the AHC appointed such a heavy representation of the racing industry.  While smaller in number in terms of ownership of horses, they invest millions of dollars into the horses they do own.  Not unlike the composition of the other species working groups!


On July 25, 2005 the ESWG submitted their comments to the Federal Register during the open comment period for the NAIS Draft Strategic Plan and Draft Program Standards.  Their specific comments are reproduced below as I believe it is vital that the horse owning public actually read the ESWG response (I have bolded portions of the text for emphasis):


“The ESWG supports the general principles set forth by USDA. 


We would like to emphasize that a very important concern to the horse industry is the confidentiality of any data collected pursuant to a national animal ID system and the access to such data.  The confidentiality, protection and safety of such data is critical to the industry and a fundamental basis for any support of a national animal ID system.  Data collected should only be made available when there is a disease emergency and information on movement is necessary to trace the animals affected, or potentially affected, by a disease outbreak.  Without confidence that any data collected is secure, and accessible only to individuals who need it under limited circumstances, the industry cannot support a national animal ID system.


USDA sets out in the ANPR several key objectives for a national identification system.  The ESWG supports each of these objectives, with the following additional comments.  According to USDA, such a system should:


1.                               Allow producers the flexibility to use current systems or adopt new ones.


There are various forms of identification used in the horse industry now, including tattoos, brands, DNA, blood-typing, micro-chipping and others.  All are valid and all must be available for use.  But at some point in the future, standards may be recommended by a particular species and as animals come into the system they can be identified with then-existing technology creating a system that will evolve into a standard system naturally.


2.                               Be technology neutral so that existing technologies and new ones can be utilized.


3.                               Build upon national data standards to ensure that a uniform and compatible system evolves. 


There may be some confusion regarding what USDA means by “technology neutral.”  We suggest that USDA specifically clarify what it means and intends by this concept.  If it means that USDA will propose uniform national data standards for identification, that service providers and the industry can work toward, we can support that principle.  But any system must allow the technology a species requires and be flexible enough so that new processes may be developed. 


4.                               Allow producers to be able to use it with systems that respond to market incentives.


Any national ID system should respond to the specific and individual needs of the species involved.  There is no “one-size-fits-all” system. 


5.                               Not unduly increase the role and size of the federal government.


We support the concept that the national animal ID system should not unduly increase the role and size of the federal government.  But it seems likely that any new federal system will eventually require federal funding and additional employees.  Since this program is intended to protect American agriculture from diseases, some potentially spread by those intending to disrupt the U.S. industry, federal funds will have to be appropriated for the effort.  Since disease control is of national import and under the supervision of the federal government, the major portion of any funding should be provided by the federal government as part of the federal budget.  While there may be some cost-sharing required, if this program proves more expensive than the benefits it provides to the horse industry that will make it even more difficult to institute.


Specific Comments Sought


In the ANPR, USDA invites comment on questions about the NAIS:


1.                               When and under what circumstances should the program transition from voluntary to mandatory?


This is a very difficult question to answer at this time.  With so many questions outstanding regarding the national animal ID system, it is almost speculative to predict when a program should transition from a voluntary to a mandated system.  Nonetheless, making any animal ID system mandatory should only be considered after confidentiality is ensured, a consensus on the national standards formed, and technology and procedures tested, implemented and found successful.  Making a system mandatory for any species before that species can comply with it will cause irreparable harm to this effort.

Even when a system is in place and working, we suggest that the there be a transition period from voluntary to mandatory and that any requirements be phased-in for different livestock sectors as proposed by species working groups, including the ESWG. 


1.                               What species should be covered, both initially and in the longer term?  Specifically, should the initial emphasis be on cattle or also cover other species?  If so, which?  Which species should be covered by the program when it is fully implemented?  What priority should be given to including different species?


All species subject to USDA oversight should eventually be covered by a national animal ID system, including horses.  But the initial focus should be on food animals.  Because of the scope of the required system, other animals, such as horses and animals that come into contact with and can pose a disease threat to food animals, can be included in the longer-term as the system proves workable.  The application of the system to each species should be pursuant to a timetable laid out by the various species working groups.


The Equine Species Working Group appreciates the opportunity to provide these comments to the USDA and looks forward to working with the Department in this important effort to protect American agriculture from diseases and their effects.  If you have any questions, please contact us.”


The above letter is signed “Dan Fick, Marvin Beeman DVM, Amy Mann, Co-Chairs – ESWG and included a list of the members of the ESWG.


It is worth noting that 100 comments were received by the Federal Register regarding the initial NAIS documents but not ONE equine breed registry or association commented.  How can this be given the mandatory deadline in these documents?  Could it be because the ONLY place information was published was on the AHC website?  How many members of the horse owning public are members of the AHC?  How many are aware of the importance of regularly checking the Federal Register for documents that might pertain to horse ownership?  How many have access to the internet?  Surely the AHC was aware of these issues!  In fact, I found one ONE comment from a person who solely owns and works with horses:


Comment in the Federal Register, docket ID APHIS-2005-0044, Document ID APHIS-2005-0044-0563 from Steve Kirk, Horse trainer for Volante Farms, LLC in NY:

I firmly believe that this proposal poses an unnecessary financial burden on the owners of show and race horses which will never be introduced into the human food chain.  The implantation of a micro-chip in every horse is not well thought out in respect to the costs to the owners, estimated by Amy Mann to be around $150; The burden on Veterinarians for recording the details of every implantation and the associated costs to track the movements.”


On August 28, 2005 the American Horse Council published a “white paper” titled “The NAIS and Horses: Why Horses Should be Included”. 

“The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is a tool developed to ensure the health of the national livestock herds by facilitating the traceback and traceforward of animals associated with a significant disease outbreak. Often, when the topic of the NAIS is raised a familiar refrain is heard: “why are horses included?  They don’t carry diseases that affect

humans or other livestock.” This paper is intended to examine that question and determine whether its accuracy.


Although rarely experienced in the U.S., horses are in fact susceptible to numerous diseases that can also affect

people.  In most cases, horses do not play a role in spreading these diseases to humans. Lyme disease is an example of a disease that affects horses and humans but horses do not give Lyme disease to humans. In some cases, horses serve as sentinels for human disease surveillance. For example, West Nile Fever and Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis are diseases that frequently appear in horses before cases are seen in humans.  However, horses can also contract infectious diseases that they can pass on or transmit to humans. Examples of zoonotic diseases of horses include Rabies, Salmonella, Ringworm, Leptospirosis, Brucellosis, and Anthrax.


The following is a listing of some of the zoonotic diseases that horses can share with humans and other livestock species. In addition, there are several diseases that are common to horses and to other livestock species as well as to humans, which are considered multispecies diseases.”


Their statements for each disease are “bulleted”.  My comments are below each individual disease in italics:


·    Anthrax - Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic lower vertebrates (cattle, sheep, goats, horses, camels, antelopes, and other herbivores), but it can also be transmitted to humans exposed to infected animals or tissues from infected animals.”

Between 1950 – 2001 there were a total of 48 cases in humans in the USA: 9 inhalational anthrax (all occupational involving handling of goat hair).  39 cutaneous anthrax (all but 2 cases were occupational.  12 involved handling goat hair, 1 wool, rest handled carcasses of infected animals - 7 of those animals were identified as cattle, other 2 cases type of animal not specified). 
In other countries humans have become infected with gastrointestinal anthrax by eating undercooked meat from infected animals.  I found NO cases of horse to human spread of Anthrax.

·    Borna Disease - Borna disease (BD), first described more than 200 years ago in southern Germany as a fatal neurologic disease of horses and sheep, owes its name to the town of Borna in Saxony, Germany, where a large number of horses died during an epidemic in 1885.  Infection results in movement and behavioral disturbances akin to some neuropsychiatric syndromes. (Some have suggested that the virus is linked to selected neuropsychiatric disorders in humans but the evidence for this is not conclusive).

Cases have occurred in Germany, other areas of Europe, Israel, Iran, Japan and the USA.  Has also been found in cattle, rabbits, goats, deer, alpacas, cats, sloth, veri monkeys and pigmy hippoppotamus'.  Neither the reservoir nor the mode of transmission of natural infection is known. *Assumed* transmission via saliva, nasal and conjunctival secretions or contaminated food and water.  NOT HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS!
Has received alot of press on and off as possible cause of some mental illness but nothing scientifically proven.

·    Brucellosis - On infrequent occasions, horses have been known to contract brucellosis caused by Brucella abortus and have, on even less frequent occasions, been a source of human infection.

There are 100 to 200 cases per year in the USA.  Sheep, goats, cattle, deer, elk, pigs, dogs and several other animals listed as usual species affected.  Most common cause in humans is eating/drinking contaminated milk products and slaughterhouse or meat packing plant workers handling carcasses of infected animals.  Few cases via inhalation method in laboratory workers culturing the bacteria. I found not one case in a search of the infectious disease literature of a human contracting brucellosis from a horse.

From the Summary of Notifiable Diseases --- United States, 2003”, Centers for Disease Control MMWR, 52(54);1-85 April 22, 2005:
"Brucellosis By 2003, the National Brucellosis Eradication Program had nearly eliminated Brucella abortus infection from U.S. cattle herds. The risk of contracting brucellosis through occupational exposure to livestock in the United States or consumption of domestically produced dairy products therefore is minimal. Consumption of unpasteurized dairy products from outside the United States continues to pose a risk of infection with B. abortus or B. melitensis. The majority of U.S. cases of brucellosis occur among returned travelers or recent immigrants from areas in which Brucella species are endemic. Hunters exposed to infected wildlife might also be at increased risk for infection. Laboratory personnel working with Brucella species should follow recommended biosafety precautions. Brucella species are considered category-B biologic threat agents. "

·    Encephalomyelidities (West Nile Fever, Eastern, Western) – horses do not play a role in transmission of these diseases to humans.  The same infection occurs in horses and in humans. All three diseases occur in the U.S.  However, horses do play a role in the transmission of another mosquito-borne disease, Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis (VEE), to humans (see separate heading below).  It should be emphasized that this disease has been exotic to the USA since the early 1970s.

See comments under VEE (listed separately toward end of listing).  We already have vaccines for these diseases.
·    Glanders – Glanders is one of the oldest known equine diseases that is of important biosecurity concern.  It is a disease of horses, mules and donkeys.  Glanders is not currently found in the U.S.  It is a disease that can be spread from horses to humans and it was used as a biological warfare weapon by the German army in World War I.  The disease continues to exist in various parts of the world, including both eastern and western hemispheres.  The U.S. requires that all horses imported into the U.S., including those temporarily exported for competition purposes be tested negative for Glanders before being permitted entry (or re-entry as the case may be) .

There have been NO cases in the USA since 1945 EXCEPT laboratory workers handling the bacteria (burkholderia mallei). It IS a concern as a potential agent for bioterrorism and it IS spread from human to human.
Perhaps humans as well as horses should be microchipped and keep logs of their movements since humans are a far more likely target of bioterrorism using this organism!
·    Hendra Virus Disease - (Acute Equine Respiratory Syndrome caused by Hendra Virus, first considered an Equine Morbillivirus) is a relatively new and emerging disease.  It causes a severe respiratory illness in horses which is very frequently fatal.  Humans having direct contact with blood or saliva of an infected horse are in danger of contracting the disease.   Hendra Virus has only been reported in Australia, first appearing in Queensland, Australia in 1994.  During the

first recorded outbreak of the disease, 14 horses died, 7 more euthanized and 3 humans became ill, one of which died.  The virus was re-isolated five years later in Australia in January of 1999. 

Key words - Only TWO outbreaks in 11 years with only THREE human cases - ALL in Australia.  It is an emerging pathogen of which little is yet known.  Reservoir thought to be flying foxes (a type of bat found in Australia).

·    Japanese Encephalitis - Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a vector-borne virus capable of causing serious infection of the central nervous system (CNS) of humans.  Swine are very susceptible to the infection and are also amplifiers of the virus.  Less frequently, horses become infected with the disease.  From an epidemiologic standpoint, people and horses are considered dead-end hosts of the virus.  Under experimental conditions, however, horse-to-horse transmission has been demonstrated.

Fewer than ONE case per year in US citizens traveling to and living in Asia.  There IS a vaccine available.

·    Leptospirosis - Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and many animal species, both domestic and wildlife. Outbreaks of leptospirosis usually result from exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. Many species of animals can carry the bacterium; they may become sick but sometimes develop asymptomatic infection. Leptospira organisms have been found in cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and in a diversity of wildlife species.

There are 100 to 200 cases in US per year but last reported "outbreak" in 1998.  NO LONGER A REPORTABLE DISEASE IN US.  Cause of abortion in horses.  I found no evidence it is spread to humans by horses.  Cattle vaccine provides only short term immunity for horses but a vaccine for horses is being developed.
If this is such a huge concern then make it a reportable disease again.
·    Rabies – like other mammals, horses can be infected with rabies virus and be a source of infection for humans.

THERE IS A VACCINE!  And, there is post-exposure treatment which IS effective against this disease.
Rabies has been documented in every state but Hawaii.  Make rabies vaccination MANDATORY in states where rabies is endemic if this is such a concern.  An easy solution is to let each state Department of Health do the excellent job it has ALWAYS done regarding rabies.

A system of tracking animals will NOT prevent rabies and save human lives.  Vaccination will.  The threat of rabies stems from wild animals, therefore, if this a reason to include horses in NAIS then the USDA should be responsible for microchipping and tracking the entire wild animal population in this country.

The December 15, 2005 article
Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2004”, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, states:  "Eight cases of rabies in human beings were reported in the United States during 2004 (Table 2).6,30-35 Two cases involved rabies infections that were acquired
within the United States as a result of rabies exposures from bats, and 1 of these patients survived.34,35,a The other patient did not survive, and because rabies was not immediately recognized as the cause of death, organs and tissues transplanted from that donor patient resulted in 4 additional rabies deaths in organ recipients.31-33 The remaining 2 cases involved rabies infections that were acquired outside the United States in countries where canine rabies is enzootic."
As you can see NO CASES of transmission from ANY livestock to humans!!

I have done a comparison of the years 2000, 2001 and 2004:
Cases of rabies in the year 2000:  7,369 total.  509 in domestic animals (52 horses/mules) & 6,855 in wild animals.
Cases of rabies in the year 2001:  7,437 total.  497 in domestic animals (51 horses/mules) & 6,939 in wild animals.

Cases of rabies in the year 2004:  6,844 total.  544 in domestic animals (43 horses/mules) & 6,292 in wild animals.  Cats increased from 270 in 2001 to 281 in 2004, cattle increased from 82 in 2001 to 115 in 2004, sheep/goats increased from 3 in 2001 to 10 in 2004, dogs increased from 89 in 2001 to 94 in 2004.  All other domestic animals experienced a decrease.
·    Ringworm - Ringworm is a skin disease which can be caused by several different types of dermatophilic fungi. Numerous species of animals can transmit ringworm to people: dogs and cats, especially kittens or puppies, cows, goats, pigs, and horses can transmit ringworm to people. Humans contract ringworm through direct contact with an infected animal's skin or hair.

They neglect to mention that ringworm is commonly transmitted from human to human.
Perhaps humans as well as horses should be microchipped and keep logs of their movements if this is such a concern.

·    Salmonellosis – This bacterial disease is frequently associated with poultry.  However, strains of salmonella can infect horses and they constitute a zoonotic risk for humans.  Furthermore, there are strains of this bacterium that exhibit resistance to multiple antibiotics.  These represent a significant health risk to horses as well as to humans.

HANDWASHING eliminates contamination!
There are an average of 40,000 human cases in the US every year - usually spread by humans not washing their hands before handling food.  I found NO documented cases from horse to human.  However, reptiles commonly harbor salmonella and show no symptoms so perhaps a Reptile Species Working Group should be started.

·    Screwworm - The scientific name for Screwworm is Chochliomyia hominivorax, which literally means "eater of man", although Screwworm infestation in humans is rare, it can, and does occur.   Horses infested with Screwworm, like other livestock, could be a source of infection for humans.

There were 39 cases in US and Mexico between 1969 & 1988 - all traced to imported animals. Outbreaks prevented by introducing sterile male flies. Fatality rate 2.8% worldwide - most often poor and debilitated who die because they fail to seek medical attention.  While gross, it is highly curable.  Screwworm is a type of maggot from a fly not native to the US.  However, we certainly DO have maggots from our own native flies.  This fact they neglect to mention - probably because that would bring to light the serious problem of homeless people in this country.  I cannot even guess at the number of homeless whom I have treated for maggots over the years.
·    Tetanus - Tetanus is an uncommon but often fatal disease that affects the central nervous system and which causes painful muscular contractions. Tetanus bacteria gain entry to the body, usually through a wound or cut exposed to contaminated soil. Tetanus spores are widely distributed, usually in soil, dust, and manure. Horses and humans are the most susceptible of all the animal species to tetanus.

37 cases in 2001 in US.  To include this one is beyond my comprehension.
Vaccine requirements for humans in the USA are published by the
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Centers for Disease Control, and followed by every physician and hospital emergency department in the USA. Microchipping horses and tracking their movements will NOT prevent tetanus. Timely vaccination will.

·    Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis - VEE is a disease that is fatal to both horses and humans.  In this case, horses do play a role in the transmission of the disease.  The U.S. is currently free of VEE; the last outbreak occurred in 1971.  At the time, the disease had spread from South America up through Central America and Mexico into Brown County, Texas, killing tens of thousands of horses and humans during that epidemic.  The disease remains an ever prevailing threat in several South American countries.  It is sporadically reported from Mexico, the last confirmed case in horses being reported in 1991.  VEE is considered a very serious biosecurity threat because of its highly infectious nature and its significant human health impact.

Horses play a role because their large body size allows a greater number of mosquitoes to feed off them.  But the current VEE vaccine is effective against ALL strains of VEE from what I have read.
Make VEE vaccination MANDATORY if this is such a concern!
There are numerous research articles on the CDC
website (of which I read all of them but the most usuable info is a 1998 book Foreign Animal Diseases "The Gray Book".
·    Vesicular Stomatitis (VSV) - Another disease that is common to cattle, sheep, swine and horses as wall as humans is Vesicular Stomatitis.  The clinical features of this disease in ruminant species cannot be differentiated from Foot and Mouth Disease.  This requires laboratory confirmation of the virus.  Direct contact with VS lesions reportedly can spread the virus from animals to humans.
Cases in horses from April 27, 2005 to April 11, 2006: 584 horses and 202 cows on 445 farms in 9 states.  Cases from
August 17, 2006 through December 21, 2006: 17 horses and 12 cows on a total of 13 farms in ONE state.  All farms were quarantined for the duration of the outbreak.
This is a reportable disease and our system of quarantine HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE.

Vesicular Stomatitis causes a flu-like illness in humans, however, I found not a single case of human infection reported from the recent outbreaks.

It should be clear that the AHC “white paper” is little more than fear-mongering.  A perfect example of looking for reasons to include horses in NAIS.


In September of 2005, Amy Mann presented the Equine Species Working Group report to the NIAA.

She listed the ESWG ID Method Recommendation

The ISO/ANSI compatible RFID chips (11784/85, 134.2 kHz) are the recommended form of electronic equine

identification in order to comply with the United States National Animal Identification System (NAIS) for the

purpose of disease control.

Use of RFID scanners that, at a minimum read 134.2khz microchips and are able to identify the presence of a

microchip in a horse. If the reader is unable to decode the chip, it must be able to identify who the manufacturer is

so that the necessary reader can be obtained


There are still unanswered questions regarding tracking – which movements must be tracked and who will be responsible for reporting the information.  This remains a continued focus of the ESWG.

Regarding the issue of communication, the AHC’s ESWG webpage was cited as a source of information for the horse industry.  How the average horse owner is supposed to know to access this site for information is not documented!




In April of 2006, Amy Mann presented the Equine Species Working Group report at the NIAA annual meeting.

Ms Mann listed the following benefits of a national equine ID system for the Horse Industry:


                        •Protect  our  horses

                        •Control  outbreaks  of  contagious  foreign  diseases

                        •Protect  human  health

                        •Address  the  threat  of  bioÂ]terrorism

                        •Identify  lost,  stolen  or  displaced  horses

                        •Maintain  a  stable  economic  environment

                        •Insure  freedom  of  movement  and  export  of  horses

                        •Be  a  responsible  member  of  the  livestock  industry


Protect human health?  Have there been any outbreaks of disease in humans related to exposure to horses?  Not that I could find in an extensive search of the Centers for Disease Control website and the CDC’s publications “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review” and the “Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases”.


She lists the ESWG future focus’ as:


                        •Determining  ID  Technology  Performance  Standards

                        •Movement  Tracking

                             - Questions:

•Which  horses  must  be  included  in  a  tracking  system?

•Who  reports  the  data?

•Who  does  the  data  get  reported  to?

                  –Privatization  of  the  Movement  Recording  Database


This is our first glimpse that they are struggling with the tracking issue at long last.  Perhaps they did hear us after all, despite their lack of response to questions from those few of us who have actually read the NAIS documents!


She repeats the same statement regarding communication and education that has been listed since the formation of the ESWG:

                        •Communication  with  the  Equine  Industry  is  Key!

                        •ESWG  Webpage  operational  and  continuously  updated


–Summary  of  NAIS  and  Equine  ID,  List  of  Benefits,  FAQs,  Press  Releases,  White  Papers  (Microchip  Paper,  Equine  Health  Issues  and  the  NAIS),  ESWG  Recommendations,  Links


While there have been a few articles in The magazine, why, 3 years later, have there been NO articles in horse publications targeting the general horse owning public?  Why have none of the major show, discipline and recreational organizations been used to help educate the horse owning public via their publications?  If the American Horse Council and the Equine Species Working Group are truly “representatives of the Horse Industry”, why are they having such difficulty communicating with and educating the rest of us?


Her last slide is reference to the USDA’s brochures and fact sheets, which the USDA is just as guilty of not distributing.  All that money spent on 4 color printed materials and one must first know to go to their website and second know how to navigate that site to find the educational materials to order!  Why have these materials not been given to every Extension Service program to hand out at local programs?  What a huge waste of taxpayer money!


J Amelita Facchiano, co-chair of the NIAA Equine ID subcommittee and member of the ESWG, presented an update on the electronic certificates of veterinary inspection at the same conference.  It is important to note that no employment link is listed next to her name for the NIAA Equine ID subcommittee report yet on this particular presentation she is listed as “J Amelita Facchiano, VSPS Project Team”.  VSPS stands for the USDA’s Veterinary Services Process Streamlining.  Ms Facchiano was Director of Sales and Marketing for GlobalVetLink LLC, who was awarded the USDA contract for electronic certificates of veterinary inspection.  While it cannot be substantiated at this date, it would make sense that she would be “on loan” from GlobalVetLink to help with the transition into this project.


She lists the purpose of the VSPS project as:

·          Collect data for animal and animal product movement events that are under the regulatory oversight of Veterinary Services

·          Replace paper process per GPEA

                                      - by assuring that the necessary data for all arriving and departing livestock and animal commodities is

                                  electronically entered into a series of relational databases that interface with e-Permits projects.


She outlines how this system will integrate with NAIS:

  • Ultimate goal = fully integrate VSPS with the National Animal Identification System
  • Will evolve with NAIS
  • VSPS eCVI will capture PINs if they exist, and send a ‘sighting’ report with PIN and AIN to the repository if the origin address has a PIN and animals have AINs


A PIN is the NAIS Premises ID Number, an AIN is the Animal ID Number and the repository is the tracking database.  So it is quite clear that the GlobalVetLink/USDA project fully integrates with NAIS!


There are a number of other presentations at this annual meeting, under the Equine Species Working Group heading, which clearly prove that NAIS for horses is forging ahead at full speed while the horse owning public is still largely unaware!

There are some minor changes in the membership of the ESWG in 2006 but racing still predominates the representatives of the actual horse owning public.  J. Amelia Facchiano is now listed as an individual, rather than a representative of a specific group, which is quite disturbing.  On every list from 2002 through 2005, she is listed either as representing GlobalVetLink or the USDA’s Veterinary Services.  When she received the NIAA’s Volunteer of the Year Award in April of 2005, she was listed as being employed by GlobalVetLink yet at the same time was listed as representing the USDA/VS on the ESWG list.  That is my rationale for believing she is “on loan” to the USDA for this project.

In August of 2006, Amy Mann presented an update on the ESWG at the NIAA’s Info ID Expo.  The majority of her presentation is a repeat from the April meeting with this exception:


ESWG  Movement  Recommendation ESWG  Movement  Recommendation


                        · Rely  on  current  regulatory  mechanisms  in  place  for  horses  that  move.

                        · Brand  Inspection

                        · Certificate  of  Veterinary  Inspection  (CVI)

                        · VS-127  Permit

                        · International  Certificate  of  Veterinary  Inspection

                        · Additional  reporting  mechanism  would  be  heavy  burden  on  horse  owners  or  premises  managers/owners


It appears they are backing off on the tracking recommendations, but are they?  Some states require a CVI for INTRAstate travel.  Since they have previously recommended that requirements for CVI’s be standardized, is this just another method to require what they recommended in the very beginning?  A method that most of us in the horse owning public would not “catch”?  And how nice that J Amelita Facchiano’s GlobalVetLink/USDA project gets the seal of approval of the ESWG!


On November 22, 2006, the USDA published a new document titled the “National Animal Identification System: A User Guide”, which states in repeated places that “NAIS is voluntary at the Federal Level”.  Remember those key words – “at the Federal Level ”.  While they attempt to stem the rising opposition publicly, behind the scenes they provide monetary incentives in the form of grants totaling $14,454,000 directly to the states and tribes to implement this system.


Page 1 of the Cooperative Agreement states:

“Funding for FY2007 will be provided to State and Native American Tribal governments to support the continued implementation and maintenance of the national premises identification system and NAIS implementation within their respective areas. NAIS remains an industry-State-Federal partnership. In response to stakeholder input, on October 31, 2006, USDA unveiled a renewed, uniform educational message for all individuals, businesses, and organizations that

focuses on the benefit of NAIS to producers. Applications for cooperative agreement funding must include an aggressive plan for education and outreach, including effective use of existing outreach resources such as cooperative extension, State Area Veterinarian in Charge (AVIC) offices, and State industry organizations, to stakeholders at all levels within the State or Tribe.”


Page 12 of the Cooperative Agreement lists what the USDA will provide funding for.  Most notable is this statement:

·          The Integration of existing State systems with the SPRS or a CPRS. This “pulling” of data from existing databases that already contain premises related information seems to be a prudent and cost effective method in many cases. States must carefully consider whether this type of data integration to register livestock premises under NAIS would be interpreted as “voluntary” and if this would create any problems for premises registration in the long term.

So while they caution that the “mining” of existing state databases might not be construed as “voluntary”, they are still providing funds for this practice to continue!


On October 13, 2006 the Goodlatte-Boucher Bill (HR 4777 Unlawful Internet Gambling) was passed as part of the Port Security Act and became Public Law 109-347.  This was a clear victory for the American Horse Council and the horse racing industry.  It is of interest to note that Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and an out-spoken proponent of NAIS.


NAIS References:

1.  Proceedings of NIAA March 24-28, 2002 annual meeting.

2.  Proceedings of July 28-30, 2002 Equine ID symposium.

3.  Proceedings of USAHA October 17-24, 2002 annual meeting.

4.  National Identification Work Plan, National Institute of Animal Agriculture, November 2002

5.  American Horse Council Press Release, January 22, 2003, titled “Equine Identification”.

6.  Proceedings of NIAA April 6-10, 2003 annual meeting.

7.  United States National Animal Identification Work Plan, Version 4.0, National Identification Development Team,

September 29, 2003

8.  Proceedings of USAHA October 9-16, 2003 annual meeting.

9.  American Horse Council Press Release, October 2003, titled “National Identification System for Horses Debated at AHC Meeting”.

10.  American Horse Council Press Release, October 2003, titled “AHC to Organize Task Force on National ID System for Horses”

11.  Kokkola, Anu-Maria:  “The Amish Sect in America”,  U.S. Institutions Survey Paper, FAST Area Studies Program
Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere, Finland, April, 2000

12.  United States National Animal Identification Work Plan, Version 4.1, National Identification Development Team, December 23, 2003

13.  American Horse Council Memorandum to AHC Organizational Members titled “Horse Industry Leaders Meet with Agriculture Secretary Veneman”, May 4, 2004 

14.  Proceedings of NIAA Info ID Expo, May 18 - 20, 2004

15.  National Economic Impact of the U.S. Horse Industry”, American Horse Council, 2005

16.  National Animal Identification System:  Draft Strategic Plan, USDA, April 25, 2005

17.  National Animal Identification System:  Draft Program Standards, USDA, April 25, 2005

18.  Mary Zanoni comments in the Federal Register, docket ID APHIS-2005-0044, Document ID APHIS-2005-0044-0457, posted June 29, 2005

19.  ESWG comments in the Federal Register, docket ID APHIS-2005-0044, Document ID APHIS-2005-0044-0486, posted July 6, 2005

20.  Steve Kirk comments in the Federal Register, docket ID APHIS-2005-0044, Document ID APHIS-2005-0044-0563, posted July 6, 2005

21.  Proceedings of NIAA Info ID Expo, September 27-29, 2005

22.  Richey BD, Stack GN:  “Animal Agriculture and Identification: Historical Perspective”, National Institute of Animal Agriculture, 2005

23.  Proceedings of NIAA April 3-6, 2006 annual meeting.

24.  Proceedings of NIAA Info ID Expo, August 22 - 24, 2006

25.  National Animal Identification System: A User Guide, USDA, November 22, 2006

26.  Cooperative Agreements for Implementation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), USDA, November 22, 2006


Disease References:

1..  Bales ME, Dannenberg AL, Brachman PS, Kaufmann AF, Klatsky PC, Ashford DA: “Epidemiologic Response to Anthrax Outbreaks: Field Investigations, 1950–2001”, Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 8, No. 10
October 2002

2. Richt JA, Pfeuffer I, Christ M, Frese K, Bechter K, and Herzog S: “Borna Disease Virus Infection in Animals and Humans:, Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 3, No. 3, July–September 1997

3.  “Summary of Notifiable Diseases --- United States, 2003”, Centers for Disease Control MMWR, 52(54);1-85 April 22, 2005

4.  “Summary of Notifiable Diseases --- United States, 2004”, Centers for Disease Control MMWR, 53(53);1-79 June 16, 2006

5.  Glanders (Burkholderia mallei)”, Fact Sheet from Centers for Disease Control, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases / Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, October 11, 2005

6.  “Hendra Virus Disease and Nipah Virus Encephalitis”, Fact Sheet from Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Infectious Diseases, August 23, 2004

7.  “Japanese Encephalitis Fact Sheet”, Centers for Disease Control, Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, November 10, 2003

8.  Leptospirosis”, Fact Sheet from Centers for Disease Control, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases / Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, October 12, 2005

9.  Krebs JW, MS; Noll HR, MPH; Rupprecht CE, VMD, PhD; Childs JE, ScD:  Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2001”, Journal of the American Medical Association, 221(12):1690-1701. 2002

10.  Krebs JW, MS; Mandel EJ, MS; Swerdlow DL, MD; Rupprecht CE, VMD, PhD: “Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2004”, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol 227, No. 12, December 15, 2005

11.  Ringworm and Animals”, Fact Sheet from Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Infectious Diseases, September 27, 2006

12.  “Salmonellosis”, Fact Sheet from Centers for Disease Control, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases / Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, November 4, 2006

13.  Seppänen M,Virolainen-Julkunen A, Kakko I, Vilkamaa P, Meri S. “Myiasis during adventure sports race.” Case Report in Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 10, No. 1 January 2004

14. “Preventing Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis Among Adolescents: Use of Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccines,  Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)” Centers for Disease Control MMWR, 55(Early Release);1-34 February 23, 2006

15. “Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule --- United States, October 2005--September 2006”, Centers for Disease Control MMWR, 54(40);Q1-Q4, October 14, 2005

16.  Ferro C, Boshell J, Moncayo AC, Gonzalez M, Ahumada ML, Kang W, et al. Natural enzootic vectors of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus in the Magdalena Valley, Colombia. Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 9, No. 1
January 2003

17. “Vesicular Stomatitis In Horses”,, July 24, 2002

18.  Vesicular Stomatitis Summary, APHIS, Animal Health Monitoring & Surveillance, March 2007



Press Release from The  Citizens Equine Working Group..
The Equine Species Working Group is critizing the Equine public as spreading mis-information while it can be proven that they are misleading the equine public by stating that  "The NAIS is a voluntary program intended to identify premises and livestock"per their press release.
The USDA stated the NAIS is "Voluntary at Federal Level". Who owns a horse at Federal Level?   All 50 states will be implementing NAIS via State Cooperative agreements issued by the USDA and submitted by your State who then received  money to implement the NAIS, No state thus far is immune from NAIS.  If NAIS is "Voluntary" why is Wisconsin mandatory for ALL livestock including horses and  Michigan is mandatory for cattle only so far??
When reading the press release the  first question is - who was this released to? We know picked it up but that magazine is a joint venture between the American Association of Equine Practitioners and BloodHorse Publications (the TB Industry), both of whom have members on the ESWG. Also note as of today 03-15-07 absolutely no media has paid any attention to the NAIS even though the livestock public has informed them. Who is silencing the Media? Isn't  the NAIS important, they are saying its to protect against disease and terrorism? Apparently not, but the shaving of  a head known in the pop world made news and then the recent Anna Nicole who made headlines day after day, but yet  the National Animal Identification System can not make it on front page headlines, a serious law  full of regulations that will affect every citizen who owns livestock is not being reported on nation wide?
Jim Morehead, DVM is one of the new co-chairs of the ESWG.  He has practiced in the racing industry for over a decade and is a board member of the AAEP. Billy Smith, PhD (the other new co-chair of the ESWG) is the Executive Director of Information Technology for the American Quarter Horse Association. According to the October 2006 article "Equine ID Group Meets, Elects New Chairmen" published in species working group:
He joined AQHA in 1999 after 10 years as a university professor, business consultant, speaker and writer. He graduated from the University of North Texas with degrees in Journalism and Business in 1984. He completed master's degrees in Public Relations and Education from Texas Tech University in 1989 and completed a doctorate of education from Texas Tech in 1999. Smith worked as a journalist for various publications after graduating from college, including freelance assignments in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.
Both have been members of the ESWG since it's inception.  With Billy Smith's background in PR and Education, why has the ESWG done such a poor job of communicating with the horse owning public at large???
Did any of you ever receive any notice, in fact did you even know of the existence of the AHC and/or the Equine Species Working Group?  When and how did you find out about NAIS? When reading who is on the committees of the Equine Species Working Group have you ever noticed who was on the groups and who they represent? Take  a look and your will see that the Racing Industry represents you in important day to day issues such as NAIS.
On the  Horse Council website  at this was posted in 2002.  If the recreation ownership is the greatest number how come the  recreation ownership is not represented with the American Horse Council  or the Equine Working Group?
                                              Number of Horses & Participants by Activity
ActivityNo. of HorsesNo. of Participants
Total6,931,0007,062,500 **
Jumping forward to year 2005 equine ownership, Racing- 26%, showing - 28%, Recreation -31% and other at 14% . It is clear again that the largest group of horse owners have essentially had no representation. 71 percent of the AHC Board of Directors have direct ties to the racing industry. Please note in the ESWG recommendations they use the word horse industry 49 times and horse owners were listed 17 times.
While reading the new dribble from the Equine Working Group, members  that are listed in their recommendation release, the only group  who referenced  NAIS on their website was the Arabian Club. Information was found under Registration. Is this communicating with the horse population that clearly shows recreation is a much higher number then RACING? So much for letting  the "Horse Owners" know about NAIS !!


Once again your State laws will come into play, who will determine Mandatory under the disguise of "Currently Voluntary". One of the key recommendations made by the ESWG is that no equine movements should be reported. The group proposed that horses which move to a premises where a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), Brand Inspection, VS-127 permit or International CVI are required should be officially identified and that the records maintained through those currently existing and utilized movement permits capture the high risk movements that pose the largest threat of spreading disease.  Animal health officials would be able to query the state databases in the event of a disease emergency to obtain the necessary records.  This sentence right there is stating that those movements then would have to be reported. Please remember  Premise Identification is the Heart of the Program. What is so Voluntary about this?


THE ESWG is mis-leading, mis-informing and telling half-truths once again. In order to show a horse at State owned facilities such as Fairgrounds, or traveling across state lines or even taking your animal to the Veterinarian which is a Non-Producer and Licensed with the State that would require an EIA, health certificate therefore you would also require a Premises ID and therefore the RFID chip and therefore the reporting of movement.  As you can see then all three components of NAIS are then executed. 


 Let it be known the argument is not getting an EIA to show or a required health certificate to cross a state border, the argument is Registering ones premises, tagging, branding, DNA, or retinal scan should be the FREE choice of the owner and the other argument is the reporting on ones movement not to mention  all with the Federal Government.  Who said this was "Voluntary" again?


                                        Premise Identification is the Heart of the Program  



The only thing that they got right in their press release is to be INFORMED, Read the "Official USDA documents" You may find them at , Read the Cooperative agreements and see for yourself the USDA has full intentions of making the NAIS mandatory via these statements right from their own words on the USDA Cooperative Agreements. The USDA Cooperative Agreement requirements are following precisely the Draft Strategic Plan and Draft Program Standards.

On the cover of the NAIS User Guide which is the most current NAIS Guide it States, "The November 2006 Guide is the most current plan for NAIS and replaces all previously published program documents, including the 2005 Draft Strategic Plan and Draft Program Standards and the 2006 Implementation Strategies.
 Now the most interesting bit of information they failed to state is that in the  2007 Cooperative Agreement which you can read  at the Naisinforcentral site states the  most reveling fact which they left out:
On page 11 in the Cooperative Agreement it states: Projects must focus on implementation of premises and animal identification methods according to the standards defined in the NAIS Draft Program Standards.  Did they not just state on the user guide that all other documents supercede the Draft Program Standards etc?
On page 16 in the Cooperative Agreement it states: "Provide a brief overview of the work to be performed and how the plan builds upon the 2005 or 2006 cooperative agreement plan. Also, explain how this plan will support the timelines for full implementation of NAIS as outlined in the Draft Strategic plan. Did they not just state on the user guide that all other documents supercede the Draft Strategic Plan etc?
More evidence can be read on the home page on:
These statements came out the same day as the USDA New User Guide for NAIS, there is no mis-information, there is no-half truths and there certainly isn't any innuendos as the Equine Species Working Group is touting..  So whatever dribble they say the documents speak for themselves. Maybe they should reread what they wrote so they do not spout the mis-information, the half- truths and innuendos and  why are they hiding the facts from the horse community?
Get involved in your State, more information can be found  at . If  further lists your state's involvement under No Nais sites, do your own research!
 A very important message from:  Mr. Knight , USDA Undersecretary was quoted On September 19, 2006,

Choosing NOT to participate may limit your options when it comes time to sell your herd or your flock or your breeding stock. Choosing NOT to participate may opt you out of the export market. Choosing NOT to participate may mean—at some point—you’ll have to hunt harder and go further to find buyers or slaughterhouses willing to accept undocumented livestock or poultry—especially as NAIS becomes fully operational.

Does that sound "Voluntary" to you?


NAIS and Horse Identification:
The Microchip Question


by Heather Smith Thomas

Horse owners have a lot of questions about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) plan that USDA wants us to comply with (premises registration, individual identification of our horses, and reporting the movements of horses). We wonder whether we’ll all have to ID our horses and what kind of ID we’ll have to use. Many horsemen already have their horses identified in some way, either for their breed registration and/or theft or loss recovery or proof of ownership—with freeze brands, hot brands, lip tattoos, descriptions of identifying markings on registration papers, DNA parentage, or microchips. Will we have to use an additional ID?
The NAIS plan (which is primarily geared toward farm animals, but includes horses because horses are considered livestock) calls for radio frequency identification devices—such as ear tags with microchips (for cattle, sheep, pigs, etc.) or microchips implanted directly into the animal (for horses). Microchips can be inserted into the middle third of the nuchal ligament (the long, strong ligament that runs from poll to withers) at the top of the horse’s neck. The NAIS plan also specifies a certain type of microchip: the ISO 11784/11785 134.2 kilohertz chip.


When the NAIS plan took shape in 2002-2003, the USDA, in conjunction with the National Institute for American Agriculture (NIAA) created a task force—National Identification Development Team—representing 70 livestock industry groups and government agencies. This team decided they needed to create working groups within each species to represent to USDA what is unique about identification in their species. The American Horse Council had already put together its own task force to look into the NAIS plan, so this group became the Equine Species Working Group—the official liaison between USDA and the horse industry. Its purpose is to evaluate the NAIS plan, recommend ways the horse industry can fit into the NAIS, and develop standards for equine ID that will mesh with the NAIS if it becomes mandatory.
There were originally 35 members on this group, volunteers from various breeds and interests within the horse industry, and people from USDA and a few state departments of agriculture. The ESWG started out with enthusiastic efforts to identify goals and create a working plan for the horse industry, but members have not always been in agreement and membership has kept changing. A smaller number have continued to participate, and there’s been a small core group of members who have determined its direction.
Early on this core group of people, for various reasons, decided it was best to go along with the USDA’s plan—and try to make recommendations that would fit the horse industry a little better than if we wait and have the government tell us what we have to do. As part of that “fitting in”, they decided that microchips would be the best means of individual identification for horses, and that a certain type of microchip (being pushed by USDA for the livestock industry) would also be the best one for horses. Their recommendation to horse owners to use this chip is stated in their 20 page booklet “National Animal Identification System and Horses” published in May, 2006 (available on the American Horse Council website and the ESWG website).
Jim Morehead, DVM (representing the American Association of Equine Practitioners, on the ESWG) has taken an active role in the ESWG and was instrumental in its formation and organization. He says, “We’re probably looking at microchips for future ID for our horses. It’s the most practical, at this point, with current technology. The ESWG wants horsemen to use the 134.2 kHz (kilohertz) chip. The particulars on that chip merely say that it has 15 digits (the first 3 being a country code).
“Thus far, this is the only requirement for our horses’ microchips. There is a lot of talk about using bio-thermal chips that also have capability of transmitting the temperature of the horse, rather than just having a number on it. This would probably be more expensive, however, and we don’t yet know how well those chips work. At this point, what’s important to the ESWG is that the chip have a number, and it has to be an ISO (International Standards Organization) number,” says Morehead.
This particular issue, however, has created a great deal of controversy within and outside the ESWG. The ISO system is a foreign system that the U.S. has never used, up until now. The chips in this system operate at a different frequency than those being used in this country. Many people are wondering why the USDA, and especially the horse industry, suddenly decided to change to this system when we have been using a different microchip system in this country for the past 15 years. At this point in time, there are already more than 800,000 horses and millions of pets microchipped (for permanent and secure ID that enables them to be traced back to their owners if lost or stolen), yet the USDA and ESWG want to throw out this system and start over.


Horsemen and pet owners have been using RFID (radio frequency identification device) microchips for a long time—for theft prevention, lost animal and disaster recovery, regulatory needs, etc. Owner contact information (to recover lost or stolen animals, for instance) is kept in a private database and released only upon owner request. This has been a very rapidly growing voluntary system for horse owners, with more than 100,000 scanners currently in place throughout the country. The microchip system in this country operates at a radio frequency of 125 kHz.
The state of Louisiana uses these microchips in efforts to control Equine Infectious Anemia. In order to get their annual Coggins test, horses must have permanent individual ID. It can be a tattoo, freeze brand, microchip—anything unique to that horse— but most owners have chosen microchips. Louisiana made it their official system in 1995. The state veterinarian’s office purchases chips from Destron and distributes them to vets around the state. About 90 percent of horses in Louisiana (more than 200,000 horses) are chipped. This was very helpful after Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of animals homeless. After Katrina, 364 horses were gathered up, and owners were located for all but one, largely because of these microchips. If any of those horses had ISO 134.2 frequency chips, however, no scanners could have “read” them.
According to Dr. John Wade, a Louisiana veterinarian who has been in private practice since 1980 and has been microchipping horses since 1988 (and head of AVID equine division, a company that makes chips for horses), says that AVID, Destron and other makers of 125 kHz chips are sending out more scanners every day. “Every dog that’s picked up, every horse that’s found, can be identified if it has a 125 kHz microchip. If you call the sheriff’s department or your local pound/shelter, they will scan the animal and tell you who it belongs to within a few minutes,” says Wade.
If a stolen horse might end up at a slaughterhouse, the plants that slaughter horses can be alerted. Federally inspected packing plants that kill horses have scanners and will scan upon request. If there’s report of a theft, they can be asked to look for a bay mare, for instance, and will oblige by scanning any horse that fits that description. If they find that chip number, they’ll hold that horse and not kill it, explains Wade. “The Texas Rangers, brand inspectors and other law enforcement agencies use scanners to identify recovered equines and return them to owners,” he says.
Though his company makes several kinds of chips, including a 134.2 kHz ISO chip (selling those to countries that use it), he doesn’t want to see the U.S. change to this type of chip because it is not a “secure” chip for proof of ownership or animal tracing. “AVID has 10 years of hands-on experience with this foreign microchip system and the problems that accompany it,” says Wade.



The NAIS plan and USDA’s strategy for implementing it can be found on USDA website: and The NAIS is a State-Federal-Industry program administered by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The stated objective is an information system to enable animal health officials to respond rapidly to emergencies such as outbreaks of foreign animal diseases or emerging domestic diseases, with animal traceback to farm of origin within 48 hours.
USDA has made cooperative agreements with states and tribes, giving them money to get all premises under their jurisdiction registered. USDA hopes to have 475,000 of the 2 million premises registered by the end of this year. Animal ID began in March, and by June the USDA was making cooperative agreements with private and state animal tracking databases hoping to have all databases functional by February, 2007. The system is voluntary until 2009, at which time the USDA hopes for 100 percent of premises registered and animals identified. After that, the USDA has a contingency plan to make it mandatory “if participation rates are not adequate.”

An RFID system used by some countries operates at 134.2 kHz frequency. The International Standards Organization is a group that creates standards for various things marketed in the European community. Since there are many different countries in a relatively small geographic area (similar to the various states in the U.S.) and many companies manufacturing similar products, there needed to be standards between countries and companies. The ISO is made up of representatives from the participating countries and the industries within them; the working groups within the ISO structure are composed of company representatives (technical people).
The next level up are the SC groups, with national delegates from the different national standards organizations that sit on these groups. Countries can opt into different SC groups, where they vote on various standards. At this point there are more than 17,000 ISO standards, on everything from tractor parts to paper sizes. The particular ISO standard in question for RFID equipment (radio frequency chips and readers) is ISO 11784/11785.
Barbara Masin is part of a company (Electronic Identification Devices, Ltd. and Trovan, Ltd, a British company) that has supplied electronic animal ID products for more than 15 years. Their technology is the most widely used today in the field of RFID and has supplied 100s of millions of transponders (microchips) to more than 100 countries, for use in pets, endangered species, fish and many types of animals. The company markets ISO chips as well as “American” chips with other frequencies. As a representative of this company, Masin sits on the board in charge of developing the ISO 11784/85 standard, as a U.S. delegate representing United States interests. She has serious concerns about the use of this particular RFID system in a national animal identification program because of its shortcomings for this type of application (providing unique identification).
The ISO 11784/85 committee has been involved in addressing the problems that have arisen over the past several years due to use of these chips for animal ID, since numbers on these chips can be easily duplicated. This particular chip system was originally developed in Russia to microchip tractor parts. It came from the need to accurately identify machinery parts for an international community. A scanner in France or Germany, for instance, could read the microchip and tell you what the part was. So the ISO accepted this system, which is a low frequency 134.2 kHz chip. One reason they chose it was because it was a smaller chip and had no proprietary attachments to it (no ownership, no patents) and was free to be used by anyone, anytime, anywhere.
“This standard was originally developed for agricultural equipment, commodities and closed-loop application in livestock, such as individual animal ID in dairy herds,” says Masin. “A farmer could utilize it to monitor the performance of individual animals.” A dairyman using automatic feeding in individual stanchions, for instance, might want to know which cow was which, and which part of the lactation cycle the animal is in, so the feed could be adjusted accordingly.
“In this situation it really doesn’t matter whether or not these chip numbers can be duplicated or reprogrammed, because the farmer is in a closed-loop operation and in control of what’s happening. And with tractor parts, you are merely updating things like maintenance information—like when this item was in for inspection the last time,” explains Masin.
“When this system was developed, the concept was for it to be an open standard. All the ISO standards are published, and any company that is interested can then conform with the published standard. It works very well if you are using it for commodities like copier paper, to make sure the products are the same and will work in various copiers. Then it doesn’t matter if you buy your paper from Xerox or Weyerhauser; if you put it in your photocopy machine it will fit. The same with modem protocols; no matter where I buy them, they can talk to each other. They all conform to the same standard and talk the same language,” she says.
But within the ISO standard there are reprogrammable chips and some can be reprogrammed multiple times. In the beginning, the ISO concept was for unique ID codes for farm animals (one number, unique for life). But ear tags (containing the chips) in cattle, sheep, etc. are often lost. In 2001, the ISO group responsible for standard 11784/85 decided that the solution to this problem would be to allow for retagging the animal with a new tag carrying the same ID number as the lost one. But a farmer can’t wait six months to get a “duplicate” tag from the manufacturer (who can’t stop production to make just a few transponders with duplicate numbers) so ISO allowed for OTP (one time programmable) “blank” microchips that could be programmed with the number of the lost tag.
For retagging with identical numbers ISO allowed for “uniquely identifying up to 7 retaggings of an animal”. Then reprogrammable tags were also allowed. In a May 31, 2001 ISO document describing their recommendations for replacing lost animal transponders, they stated it would be disastrous if OTPs fall into the wrong hands; “they should be transported in a secure way to issuing stations and must be safely kept. It is a national responsibility that the procedure is followed properly.” Instead of trying to preserve the integrity of the system, they essentially said, “You can duplicate and reprogram these chips, but we are not responsible.”
As Masin points out, problems arise when we begin using this technology for something it was not designed for—such as an open loop approach where there are lots of different animals. “Chipped animals may be part of a national system being used to control compliance (to make sure people are actually doing what they say they are doing, pertaining to animal health, for instance) or to make sure that an animal is indeed the individual with that number when it crosses a state line or goes somewhere else,” says Masin. USDA is not being realistic in thinking we can use this system for dependable animal trace-back to farm of origin, in case of a disease outbreak.
“The problem with using a published open standard like ISO 11784/85 for something that’s needed to provide unique or secure ID is that it won’t work. It would be like our government publishing the standard for dollar bills, telling people what paper to use, what color ink, etc. so anyone could do it,” explains Masin.

There are questions about cost (both to the individuals who must conform, and to the taxpayer) and the huge expansion of bureaucracy the NAIS would spawn. The regulations will also be difficult to enforce. There are concerns about having more government intrusions and more control over animal agriculture and horse ownership, and whether the sweeping changes proposed by the NAIS plan are constitutional. Some lawyers are saying that it violates the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and protection of property rights and other fundamental rights). The NAIS may also violate the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause (there are some religious groups who depend on animal agriculture for their way of life and do not believe in using modern technology).
There were also concerns about confidentiality of information on a government database accessible to anyone through the Freedom of Information Act, but there are also concerns about the present plan for multiple private databases (which will charge a fee for this service); USDA lawyers are presently looking into whether they have the authority to require animal owners to report information to a private entity.
The NAIS has not actually become law. The National Farm Animal Identification Record Act (H.R. 1254) was introduced in the House but has been sitting in committee for more than a year. USDA claims it can enforce the NAIS under the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002, but that law does not provide for individual animal ID and tracking; it addresses import and export of animals, interstate travel, quarantine areas and related programs. USDA is forging ahead on the NAIS program, but time will tell whether they can actually make it mandatory.


The drawback in using this type of chip in a national system for purposes of disease trace-back, bio-security or unique ID for proof of ownership or theft prevention/loss recovery is that there is no guarantee of uniqueness of ID codes. There are several ways ID codes can be undermined in any open system. Chips can be ordered factory-programmed, with desired numbers. Some manufacturers also sell reprogrammable chips which are programmable by the user in the field, and indistinguishable from factory programmed chips. Some can be reprogrammed as many times as the user desires, even after being implanted in an animal. Thus anyone can change the ID numbers in an open system.
Since this is an open standard, even if the NAIS gets its chips from selected manufacturers and distributes them through a single entity, this would not prevent ISO chips with duplicate ID numbers from entering the market, since ISO does not enforce compliance with its standards. Three companies have already announced that they will make ID codes to order when the ISO standard is put into place in this country—without going through the Brussels bureaucracy to have the numbers assigned.
In the ISO system, corruption of the ID numbering system is practically built-in. And even for manufacturers who adhere to the ISO honor code, ID numbers can be recycled every 33 years. This is no problem for cattle or pigs but might be a problem for longer lived animals such as horses. The ISO system also stipulates a two year “transition” period (for any changes), which was adequate for the original purpose such as food animals that were marketed within 2 years of life and cycled out of the system in that period of time. But this doesn’t begin to address the ID needs for other animals such as horses or companion animals.
This spring Barbara Masin attended a USDA/APHIS hearing on microchips for pets—the purpose of which was looking at changing the present ID system (the 125 kHz “American” chip already in use) to the ISO 134.2 kHz ISO system. After the meeting she gave a demonstration showing how it is easy to reprogram the ISO standard chip with any number you want.
“There were three people from the USDA and a number of speakers from the companion animal community (various interest groups that represent veterinary organizations, animal shelter organizations, local shelters), and one person from the American Horse Council— Amy Mann—who spoke on why she thought companion animals should have the same ISO chips as horses. I spoke there, and after everyone finished speaking, I gave the demo,” says Masin.
She showed that the ISO chips—whether programmed from the factory, or the OTP (one-time programmable chips that come blank and can be programmed once) or the reprogrammable ones where you can change the number after it’s in the animal—are visually indistinguishable; they look identical. You also can’t tell them apart with a scanner because they all read the same way.
“There are only two ways to tell the difference. You can dig it out of the animal and have it subjected to microscopic destructive analysis (which is very expensive). Or, if you happen to have the right kind of programmer and the chip doesn’t have a password on it, you can tell. I had several standard ISO chips made by various companies, preprogrammed. I also had reprogrammable chips. I shuffled them around and people could not tell the difference.”
She also had a couple of chips inserted in stuffed animals, and used a programmer (about the size of a deck of cards) to counterfeit (clone) one of the chips. “I scanned the chip in one animal, and the programmer stored the ID number. Then I passed the little programmer over the animal with the programmable chip and duplicated that number. So you don’t even have to key in the number; you just scan one chip and essentially put that number in the other one,” she explains. Anyone with a programmer could make other animals pass for the one with the original number.
The programmers are not expensive. Depending on where you get them, they can be purchased for as low as $160 to $200. “There are ads in various European publications and websites stating they can supply reprogrammable microchips and low-cost programmers. There are classified ads in newspapers offering low cost confidential provision for duplication of ID numbers,” says Masin.
An ad that appeared in the largest Swedish morning paper translates as follows: “We offer a new chip service. We will change the ID number of the Kennel type chip according to your wishes. Inexpensive. Easy. Fast. Total discretion. Also sale of ISO programming units.” A Spanish language ad in the veterinary publication VETECOM reads: “Specialists in animal accessories. Collars, muzzles...ISO reprogrammable transponders. You can encode all the ID numbers you require as often as you like. Can even be reprogrammed inside the animal. Conforms with ISO Standards 11784 and 11785. Compatible with all reader systems. Can be used in every kind of animal. Also readers for reprogramming.” Thus anyone who wanted to could use this ISO system to their own advantage, for various purposes.
The chips themselves are not very expensive. “If you buy them through a vet you might pay top dollar, but in an industrial market they are less than $5,” says Masin. “I could take a $5 chip and put it in a horse that looks like a valuable animal and, in essence, I’ve cloned the champion because my horse has its number. An animal from another country could be made to look like one that came from the U.S. or vice versa,” she says.
“A person could keep several look-alike animals and register only one, or claim health insurance coverage for 10 animals while taking out a policy on only one. Some jurisdictions require chips as proof of payment for horse vaccination requirements. With ISO 11784/85 chips, horse owners could have just one horse vaccinated while 9 others sport the same identity. By using a WORM (write many, read many) chip that can be reprogrammed as many times as desired, the same animal can change identities throughout its life. In jurisdictions with a ‘dangerous dog’ law that requires an animal to be put down after it bites three times, such a dog could easily have its identity changed by an unscrupulous owner,” says Masin.
Given enough time and money, people can duplicate anything, though it may take more effort to crack a secure system, depending on how high the hurdles are. “With the ISO standard, there is no hurdle. The standard itself allows duplication of a chip 8 times. There are many vendors, including us, that sell reprogrammable chips. The ISO standard stipulates this because if an ear tag falls off, livestock owners want to give that animal the same number again. If you are restricted to preprogrammed chips you’d be looking at having to go to a wafer fab plant, and they have lead times of six months or longer for computer chips,” she explains.
Another thing to consider, in choosing this system for the NAIS, is that by using the ISO microchip system, we are building in impending obsolescence. The ISO-based system is static and precludes the use of new technologies and advancements because the technical parameters of this chip are rigidly defined. The ISO standard 11784/85, as defined, leaves no room for innovation and improvement. If technological advancements become available, the USDA’s NAIS (and people who chip their horses with this system) will be confronted with a difficult choice. They can continue with out-moded technology or junk this standard and begin a new process of standardization (which took more than 5 years for the current ISO standard) for the new technology for a national system.
Jim Gowan, ESWG member representing the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, says the microchip issue was one of several things his group questioned about the ESWG’s recommendations to USDA and the horse industry. “Chips can be replaced, removed or changed. With today’s technology, how long will microchips be the system of choice? Maybe we don’t want to be locked into this, with chips in all our horses. If something better and more feasible comes along, then we’d have to switch systems and that could be very costly,” he says.
“I think ultimately the best means of ID will probably be instant DNA typing. You can’t tamper with that. If you have a horse entered in an event or race (or traveling across a state line) you would simply prick the horse, take the blood, put it in a scanner or reader, and it would instantly match that horse with its information,” he says. This could be a simpler, more foolproof system, and might alleviate some of the political behind-the-scenes push from vested interests who stand to gain from having all livestock producers and horse owners ID their animals.


This is not the “universal” international system that USDA and the ESWG are telling us it is. More than 60 countries besides the USA have not adopted the 134.2 kHz system, and some of the countries that use it are not happy with it.
When it became clear what some of the problems were with this system—especially for unique animal ID—and where the expansion in this market was heading, there was an official complaint by the Russian standards organization (Gosstandart). They made a formal motion requesting that IS0 11784/ll785 be repealed. According to Masin, the Russians said, “There’s a problem here. We don’t have unique ID. This standard is being sold as something that claims to provide unique ID, but it can’t. It’s two mutually incompatible technologies in one standard.” They submitted a long list of issues and said, “Based on these flaws with the standard, which we believe are substantial, this standard should be retracted and sent back to the working groups so it can be fixed.”
The Spanish Veterinary Association also filed a formal complaint with ISO, and the Australian Veterinary Association published an item in its official bulletin outlining problems with the standard. Their list of problems included read distance (which is shorter than other chips being used in Australia), ISO standards not taking into consideration longer life spans of horses and pets, uniqueness of numbers not guaranteed, etc. “There were so many complaints and formal objections that finally the highly unusual step was taken to put these standards to a vote,” says Masin.
The major flaws with the ISO 11784/85 system include the fact that this “standard” is actually two systems in one. The ISO process is based on the work of a committee, and almost always the result of compromise. With a committee involving manufacturers with high-stakes market interests this can be a lengthy political process, with results based on compromises rather than on things like performance, cost control or technical feasibility. At present there are two very different designs involved in the low frequency 134.2 kHz ISO standard chips. Even though only one company markets one type (every other company in the business markets some version of the other type), a political compromise stipulates that the ISO standard incorporate both technologies, which lowers the read speed performance and reliability of the readings. This makes the resulting readers less efficient and more costly than those designed to read a single type of technology.
Other flaws with the ISO 11784/85 standard are its inability to ensure unique ID codes. Being an open standard (in the public domain), it relies on an honor system—with all manufacturers agreeing on who manufactures which numbers, to prevent duplicates. But without legal teeth in the form of patents to thwart production of unsanctioned chips, the ISO standard is susceptible to compromise by manufacturers. There is no manufacturer accountability.
There is also the problem of transponder performance. Neither IS0 11784 or 11785 stipulates any minimum performance requirements for microchips suitable for use in animals. Thus a chip that can read at “touching” distance would be fully ISO compliant. Small animal veterinarians around the world have repeatedly expressed strong reservations about systems with such short reading distances and users in the livestock business (and horses) need even greater read range in order for microchips to be effective for them. Thus being ISO compliant is no guarantee of suitability for any given RFID product for use in animals.
So ultimately this was put to a vote in the SC group for that standard, says Masin. “It was a highly political process and very contentious. This group had their own problems with ‘hanging and dimpled chads’ in their vote. Only these were not chads; they were X’s on paper. But they had trouble seeing which columns the X’s were in! They did revotes and recounts. Each vote/recount yielded more votes against the standard, but the last count, which we still believe was incorrect, showed 50 percent of the nations for it and 50 percent against. It was a tie. The way the ISO system works, for an existing standard to go back to committee to be retracted, it has to be at least 50 percent plus 1 vote against the standard. So it was very close. We believe that the entities responsible for doing the counting were beneficiaries of one of the companies that was in favor of having the standard stay as it was,” says Masin.
“Essentially it was short by one vote of having the standard cancelled. So if people say it’s a great international standard, this is not true. In the ISO voting group, half the countries at the national standards level said this is a bad standard. They realize this system is open to fraud,” explains Masin.


One of the arguments we hear as to why our horse industry should use the ISO 11784/85 chips is that this is necessary for international travel. This might be true if horses in the U.S. were considered food animals and were going to another country for human consumption, but the U.S. horses traveling internationally are doing so for sport or breeding purposes and by some definitions would fall into the classification of companion animals, says Masin.
Recent legislation passed in Europe (the “Pet Passport Law”) mentions the types of microchips that may be used. Airports in all European Union nations, including the UK, are required to have readers on hand that are capable of reading Trovan ID-100 chips and 125 kHz unencrypted chips. “Today there are laws in place in the European Union, Japan and Australia—the only jurisdictions that require microchips for companion animals—and all of them make provisions for 125 kHz chips (which is the U.S. basis for horses today) to be read. There is a 125 kHz encrypted chip which is not used in horses (but used in cats and dogs) that is not accommodated, but the ones used in horses (the unencrypted AVID 125 chip, Destron 125 chip, and 128 kHz Trovan chip) are all accommodated,” explains Masin. Basically, if the concern is being able to get your horse into one of these jurisdictions that require chips, there is no problem; they are accepted with the chips they already have.


People who are aware of problems with the ISO system are wondering why the USDA is dictating the use of this particular kind of chip. “This chip is really not suitable,” says Masin. “When this was being discussed for livestock, our ISO board approached the USDA and attempted to communicate with everyone from Anne Venneman (Secretary of USDA at that time) on down, and we got no return calls. They were not interested in hearing this. I went to the USDA listening sessions and offered to show them the problem with duplication possibilities, but they didn’t want to see it. The situation is very political. There are certain people involved within the USDA who have very close ties to certain manufacturers. There is an underlying agenda, unfortunately, and this is not for the good of the country,” says Masin.
“The NAIS is being touted as an anti-bioterrorism measure, but it won’t cut the mustard, especially using these chips. If USDA or our livestock/horse industries tell people this is what they have to use, the first incidence of some serious disease outbreak after the NAIS is implemented will spawn litigation. We have put the USDA on notice, in writing, that this is a problem (so they are aware of it), and if they persist with their plans and use this type of ID anyway, it will be a field day for lawyers,” she says.
If horse owners and livestock producers are forced into a national ID system and then find out it’s not workable because of these flaws, there will be repercussions. There will also be more legal actions and suits by various microchip companies. As one member of the Equine Species Working Group recently stated, “the legal actions will make this thing implode, and then we all will have wasted our time and money working on this.”
The flaws have been well documented, as far back as 1995, says Masin. “It’s very unfortunate that when the discussion at USDA was happening for the livestock standard, it wasn’t an open discussion. Listening sessions were crowd control type; USDA didn’t want to see any information against the system and didn’t respond to efforts to show them what was actually going on in other countries,” she says. There are still many people who are not aware that this is a poor system and that other countries are unhappy with it.
The frustrating thing about this whole issue is that USDA (and even certain members of the ESWG) seem to want to ignore the fact there are problems, and want to press on with convincing everyone that this is the best system for livestock and horses in the U.S.


Did you catch this comment about Amy Mann in that article:
This spring Barbara Masin attended a USDA/APHIS hearing on microchips for pets - the purpose of which was looking at changing the present ID system (the 125 kHz American chip already in use) to the ISO 134.2 kHz ISO system. After the meeting she gave a demonstration showing how it is easy to reprogram the ISO standard chip with any number you want.

There were three people from the USDA and a number of speakers from the companion animal community (various interest groups that represent veterinary organizations, animal shelter organizations, local shelters), and one person from the American Horse Council,  Amy Mann, who spoke on why she thought companion animals should have the same ISO chips as horses. "I spoke there, and after everyone finished speaking, I gave the demo," says Masin.

There are literally millions of dogs with microchips out there for very good reasons.  A friend of mine shows and breeds champion Saint Bernards and Shelties. Her dogs are microchipped because they are worth thousands of dollars each.  I intend to print this off for her so she can take it to the AKC dog shows this year.  Pet owners need to see this!

First of all, why is the USDA/APHIS concerning itself with changing a pet microchipping program that is widely used and successful?  My guess is that they were trying to justify the change to the 134.2 kHz technology recommended for NAIS.  Many of us have wondered why the USDA and Amy Mann were so Hell-bent on this technology as opposed to the "tried and true".  We, The Horse Owners, read all about the security problems with the 134.2 kHz chips as soon as we read the ESWG recommendations.

But the bigger question is why was Amy Mann, representing the American HORSE Council, a speaker for a technology that is NOT currently used in horses in this country, at a program regarding PET microchips?  It would make sense if we were using these chips in horses and had vast experience with them but we do NOT!  Horses who are currently microchipped have the 125 kHz chip, just as pets do.

Amy Mann left the AHC in November 2006 "to go back to college".  It shall be interesting to see where her name comes up in the future.


As some of you may remember, I contacted Digital Angel when their LifeChip was first USDA approved for use in horses.  Not only would they not give me pricing info (they insisted this info could only be obtained from your veterinarian), they refused to even send me their Equine brochure, advertised on their website.
I have periodically been checking their website and nothing has been added about horses.
Today I tried a different approach and hit pay dirt with a website selling these chips for alpacas and llamas.  This is the SAME CHIP used for horses.
Here's the link for the pricing info: 
Note that the biothermal chip, the one USDA approved for horses, is $24 a chip - NOT $8 or $10 a piece as reported in the new NAIS User Guide.
The pocket scanner is $300, which is comparable to AVID's but this scanner does NOT have a computer interface so why would anyone risk making a mistake copying down 15 digit ID numbers manually then entering them in a computer?  This scanner also does not record temperature.
Their universal scanner - can interface with a computer, does record temp and does read other chips - is significantly cheaper than AVID's at $500 but that is still a whole lot of money for most horse owners.
They do not list the price for the cable for computer interface. 
And here's the link for info on their reader:
Note the operating temperature is 32 - 122F.  Definately a problem in winter for those of us in the north!  Were I live it rarely gets above zero the entire month of January and often gets colder than 30 below.
At least this one runs on AAA batteries.
Found another website for them with basically the same prices:

Bottom line, our original cost estimates were remarkably accurate.  The LifeChip is currently $5 cheaper than AVID but who knows how long it will stay that way?  More importantly, it is
$14 to $16 MORE per horse than the USDA is letting on via their new NAIS User Guide.
You will still have the same cost for the vet to implant it.
While this scanner is significantly cheaper than the AVID scanner, it is still NOT cost effective for the average horse owner.  They can say we don't need one all they want but what happens if we transpose 2 numbers when entering data?  That is way too easy to do with 15 digit ID numbers.
Remember - this scanner will NOT function in winter in many areas where horses are kept unless we install heating systems in our barns.
Last, we still have no clue how much tracking will cost us.