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Wisconsin requires all livestock sites to be registed

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Wisconsin becomes the first state in the nation Tuesday to require registration of all places where livestock are kept.

Federal and state agriculture officials said the registration will help them respond more quickly to animal disease outbreaks.

In fact, the livestock location system is the first of three steps planned in many states and nationwide, said Dore Mobley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Inspection Service.

The next will be to register all animals and the third is to track animals throughout their lives, she said.

The Wisconsin Premises Registration Act requires all who board livestock to register their premises, regardless of the kind and size of the operation.

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Numerous animals are covered under the law including cattle, llamas, deer, horses, goats, pheasants, exotic birds, chickens, turkeys, geese, ostriches, sheep and swine.

Wisconsin received a $2.75 million, three-year grant from the USDA to develop the system, which 35 other states are also moving toward adopting, said Leanne Ketterhagen, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium.

The three steps are needed to respond to an animal disease outbreak within 48 hours, according to the consortium.

More than 22,000 people who board livestock have voluntarily registered since the system was started in October 2003 in Wisconsin, but now all are being required to participate, Ketterhagen said.

Terry Quam, who raises beef cattle and dairy heifers, said if officials have good information about the animals' location, the size of a quarantine area in the case of an outbreak could be greatly reduced.

But Dave Matthes, state chairman of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund of the United Stockgrowers of America, said current procedures are effective in tracking diseased animals.

"We've traced back and stopped every disease," he said. "They haven't shown what (disease) we're trying to protect against."

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