Beginning in 2008, horse owners in the state of Illinois will be required to comply with government ID regulations for livestock if they plan to show or race horses at state, county, 4-H and FFA fairs in the state. The Illinois Department of Agriculture will announce the regulatory policy tomorrow.
Premises registration is the first step toward the establishment of a National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which its supporters claim will greatly improve the ability of animal health professionals to contain disease outbreaks. Regulatory opponents claim the policy to be a bureaucratic nightmare that will simply embroil animal owners in red tape while potentially violating their privacy.
Because the identification number corresponds to the location where an animal is raised, it does not necessarily have to be issued in the exhibitor's name. The number must be obtained and included on entry forms, however, before fairs will allow an animal to compete. Since horses change owners much more frequently over a lifetime than a typical pig or steer raised for meat, and live longer, the record-keeping will be a burden for trainers and breeders and owners.
Owners of out-of-state horses must obtain a premises ID number through their state's agriculture department, whose contact information can be found online at http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/premises_id/register.shtml.
It is not clear if the regulations apply to privately-organized horse events held on publicly-owned show sites.
The application form is posted on the Illinois Department of Agriculture's website at www.agr.state.il.us/premiseid. Horse owners who register online will receive a premises ID number immediately. The application also can be completed and returned by mail, but may take four weeks to process. To obtain a copy of the form, horse owners should call 1-866-299-9256.