A proposal to strengthen the tracking of the nation’s cattle has been sent to the White House for a fast-track review after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in California and spurred calls for a more stringent system.

“We have a lot of confidence in a rule we think will work,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Friday in Washington, D.C.

He said he hopes the Office of Management and Budget will approve the new animal-identification plan quickly.

A nationwide animal-identification plan would allow officials to quickly trace sick livestock back to their farms of origin and help identify other infected animals. Such a system has been promised by the Agriculture Department since just after the country’s first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, surfaced in late 2003.