Officials scramble to make cow tracking plan

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The latest case of mad cow disease has brought new talk of a national livestock tracking system, something the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee says the beef industry can create more quickly than the government.
The government is still trying to pinpoint the herd of the infected cow, a "downer" that could not walk and was at least 8 years old. The Agriculture Department, which confirmed the new case Friday, is using DNA analysis because the cow's breed was mislabeled and its tissues got mixed with parts from other cows.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said a system to track the movements of the nation's 96 million cattle needs to be running "as soon as possible." The government's goal is to make a system mandatory by January 2009, but Goodlatte said the industry can create a tracking system more swiftly.
The dominant cattle ranchers' group, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, is creating its own identification system. The plan is to test the system starting Oct. 1, then have it up and running by October 2006, said Jay Truitt, lobbyist for the group.
The industry is hoping to persuade the department to use the cattlemen's system instead of its own. Other groups of livestock producers are also resisting the idea of a mandatory system.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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