Fair makes premise ID mandatory
By NICK BONHAM
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
LAKEWOOD - Exhibitors at the 2008 Colorado State Fair will be required to register the location where the animal
was raised with the controversial National Animal Identification System.
The Fair's board of commissioners voted 8-1 to stand by the policy it set forth last year, which drew controversy.
Future Farmers of America and 4-H members will have to register with the NAIS their premise identification or the physical
location to show in the Junior Livestock Sale.
The board's decision came here Friday at its monthly meeting, held at the state Department of Agriculture.
The only commissioner to vote against the policy was Raeana Wadhams of Pueblo, who was present via telephone. Of the 10
commissioners on the board, only Loren Whittemore of Wray, who expressed opposition to premise ID at the October meeting in
Pueblo, did not attend.
Premise ID was a controversial topic before it came to the State Fair. Last year the Fair voted to make it mandatory because
4-H and FFA groups showed strong support of it and supporters said it is a valuable tool for quick traceability - 24 to 48
hours - in the case of an animal disease outbreak.
Opponents argue that registration is an invasion of privacy and that government agencies were pushing an agenda on youth
"We're not saying it's 4-H and we're going to use those kids or brainwash them," said Commissioner Catherine Ross. "The
department of ag has identified (the Fair) as a possible place for disease outbreak."
Two exhibitors were disqualified from the show this year because their premises weren't properly registered. In the end,
both individuals were compensated for what their replacement animal sold for.
At the October meeting two opponents of premise ID talked with board members and supplied them with large packets of information.
The Fair also received some letters, including one from a group of legislators, opposing the policy.
Here on Friday, after long discussion with state ag officials on the subject, the board voted to stand by its policy
and will look at expanding premise ID requirements to all large animals that will be on the Fairgrounds during the 11-day
"Any type of leadership comes with criticism," said John Stulp, state commissioner of agriculture. "I think we did right
by the state and the Colorado State Fair in a step to ensure the safety of our livestock industry.
"I offer the opportunity
to people who oppose (premise ID) to ask them how do we rapidly respond on a disease outbreak. It's one thing to say that
it infringes on someone's rights, but we really need to get to the (center) of it. If there's a better way to protect our
livestock industry, we need to do it. Let's look at what the alternatives are."
Those close to the debate said that premise ID registration, which is a voluntary program, will ultimately be driven by
the livestock industry.
Jeanne Robinson, livestock coordinator for the Fair, said packing plants in the state are looking at making premise ID
required before slaughter.
"They have policies in the making to only accept from county fairs that have premise IDs," she said.
"Premise ID is just one of many tools we need for rapid traceability" Stulp said.
Animals competing at the Fair must have a health certificate or pass a health exam at the Fair.
There are some pitfalls, according to Lindsay Wadhams, horse show coordinator. She said horses are often housed at stables
while their owners live elsewhere, but the stable owner does not want their address listed for the animal's ID.
"That would be a rare occasion and if they wanted to show they'd have to find another stable," Stulp said.
Premise ID registration can be done online or on mail-in forms. Board members looked at the mail-in sheets and agreed the
information required was minimal and that there were other areas of public record where more information could be found.
"There's no Social Security number, bank account information. They don't even ask for your driver's license," said Fair
attorney Steve Smith.
Ag officials said mail-in ID information is kept locked in file cabinets while electronic info is stored in secured databases.
They said they're looking further into the security of information.