Dr. Robert Ehlenfeldt, State Veterinarian, for the Department of Ag and Consumer Protection, says farmers registering their livestock are necessary for public health. He says the whole intent is for officials to identify populations of "at risk" animals in case of a disease outbreak.
State Representative Scott Suder's (R-Abbotsford) bill would make premises registration voluntary rather than the current mandatory policy. The lawmaker believes that was the original intent of the law signed in 2004. However Ehlenfeldt says with a voluntary policy, disease can still spread with overlooked animals.
"If you don't know all of it you still have a huge job to do to identify that population," says Ehlenfeldt.
Although Wisconsin is only one of two states requiring mandatory premises registration, Ehlenfeldt says the federal government originally favored mandatory requirements back in 2003. Delays in implementation have led to the current voluntary system; however he says the feds continue to review the policy.
The veterinary official says premise registration has been used successfully like West Nile alerts last year, contacting poultry producers about an Avian Flu scare and letting pig farmers know about pseudo rabies in 2007. The three year registration is free and confidential.