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Tennessee Livestock Network to Provide Competitive Advantage

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 | 07:00pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee livestock producers looking for a competitive advantage through age and source verification now have a new partner – the Tennessee Livestock Network.

The Tennessee Livestock Network (TLN) was chartered May 26 at Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville and represents a coalition of livestock interests that have come together to expand markets and improve efficiency and quality in Tennessee livestock. The main purpose of the new organization is to make Tennessee producers more competitive in marketing their livestock domestically and internationally according to TLN president and Giles County cattle producer Steve Scott.

“This is a significant development in the industry to have all of these partners and resources coming together to advance livestock marketing in Tennessee,” said Scott. “This makes Tennessee one of only a handful of states providing this kind of service to its producers.”

Charter members of the TLN include representatives the American Dairy Association of Tennessee, the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation and the Tennessee Livestock Markets Association. Other non-voting member organizations include the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association and the University of Tennessee Extension.

Age and source verification is a marketing tool for producers and is completely voluntary according to TLN members. Age and source verification is an auditable process that provides prospective buyers with assurance as to the farm of origin as well as the maximum age of livestock.

“Age and source verification is the way of the future of livestock marketing. Today’s buyers, and ultimately the consumer, want to know where and how their food is produced and this provides a starting place in meeting that demand,” said Scott.

The way the system works is that producers agree to maintain good management records for identification and age, something Scott says many producers are already doing. Participating producers tag their livestock using approved identification methods, to be determined later by the TLN board. The information is maintained by a livestock data service, which acts as the certification entity for buyers and sellers of livestock and performs reviews of producer records for verification purposes.

TLN has partnered with the Southeastern Livestock Network, LLC to deliver services in Tennessee. The SLN is a 10-state effort that provides a process verification program (PVP) for export certification by AgInfoLink, USA along with tag allocation tools provided by IMI Global. The system is designed to provide producers and markets with maximum flexibility.

Scott says the focus of TLN right now is on cattle simply because of the number of producers, but they hope to expand the program to other species as interest develops.

TLN members say that age and source verification is not the same and should not be confused with animal identification, which is being developed by USDA to help safeguard animal health. “Both programs are important, and part of the objective of TLN is to better coordinate the two programs so that producers aren’t duplicating efforts,” added Scott.

In addition to Scott, who represents the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, officers are the Tennessee Livestock Markets Association’s Kevin Thompson (vice-president) and the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s John Woolfolk (secretary). Other board members include Chris Anderson, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation; Jennifer Houston, Tennessee Livestock Markets Association; Dr. Richard Daugherty, Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association; and Bob Strasser, the American Dairy Association of Tennessee.

For more information about the Tennessee Livestock Network, contact the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at (615) 837-5189.

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