The National Animal Identification System Information Education Project: Addressing 4-H Stakeholders’ Issues and Concerns

The Issue

4-H Animal Science projects, which engage approximately 30,000 youth annually in California, pose potential risks to biosecurity and animal disease traceability. The majority of projects focus on rearing, care, husbandry, and showing and marketing live animals, including poultry, ruminants, and swine. There is a lack of standardized guidelines or protocols for tracking 4-H project animals. There are also no regional or statewide systems to inform volunteers of biosecurity risks and preventative measures.

A standardized electronic tracking system that is currently voluntary in California may become mandatory, as it is in some states. The National Animal Identification System (NAIS), established in 2002, provides animal health officials with disease tracking tools to protect animal agriculture during a disease outbreak. NAIS uses an animal-specific Animal Identification Number (AIN) and a site-specific Premises Identification Number (PIN) to provide trace-back data on at-risk animals within 48 hours of exposure or potential exposure.

While the system offers a standardized means of identifying and tracking animals, there have been concerns among California 4-H volunteers and youth regarding NAIS, including its potential impact on Animal Science projects.

What Has ANR Done?

The UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) has identified biosecurity as one of its priority issues.

In order to ease concerns among 4-H participants in county-based programs, three ANR groups—California 4-H Volunteer Leaders Training Program Advisory Task Force, UC ANR Animals in Education Settings Workgroup, and Science, Technology and Environmental Literacy Workgroup—together developed and disseminated the 4-H NAIS Information Education Project.
In Fall 2006, four interactive workshops held in different parts of the state had the following objectives:

1. To provide a forum to better understand stakeholders’ concerns and issues relative to NAIS

2. To improve the knowledge of 4-H youth, adults and staff in three areas:

a) animal diseases and their potential impacts on animal agriculture and human health

b) the purpose of NAIS as it relates to animal health

c) methods and technologies used to track animal movement

The Payoff

Workshop Builds Knowledge and Understanding of Biosecurity and NAIS

Results from post-workshop surveys (55) indicated that 76 percent of the participants improved their knowledge of key terms and concepts related to biosecurity, and 87 percent improved their understanding of NAIS. Using open-response questions on the survey, participants shared their concerns regarding how NAIS program might impact Animal Science projects, including the husbandry, transport and showing of project animals. These concerns were compiled and reported to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, to inform future NAIS modifications to meet the needs of both large and small animal producers, such as 4-H.


Supporting Unit: 4-H Youth Development Program

Veterinary Medicine Extension
Martin H. Smith
Associate Specialist in Cooperative Extension
Veterinary Medicine Extension

H. Steve Dasher
4-H Youth Development Advisor
UCCE San Diego County

Mignonne Pollard
Assistant Director, Staff and Volunteer Development
California State 4-H Office