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Archive for Thursday, February 5, 2004

Panel eyes livestock ID measure

February 5, 2004

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— Agriculture groups told legislators Wednesday the state should wait for federal action before establishing its own livestock identification program.

Representatives of the Kansas Farmers Union and the Kansas Cattlemen's Assn. said they were concerned a state program might not conform to whatever the federal government adopts.

Livestock Commissioner George Teagarden has proposed an identification program to help track farm animals with diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow. The House Agriculture Committee heard testimony on the proposal Wednesday.

Supporters and opponents of the bill expressed similar concerns that the measure would give Teagarden too much power to set policies and fees and would initially put farmers along Kansas' borders at a competitive disadvantage.

Federal officials are working on an identification plan and have encouraged states to prepare for participation.

Teagarden's proposal would require that all livestock be identified and tracked as they are moved among farms, with producers bearing much of the cost.

The agriculture groups also said that if Kansas established its own identification program, producers' data should be exempted from the state's Open Records Act.

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