USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is experiencing a hailstorm of opposition to its new animal disease traceability system as the proposal reaches the halfway point in the comment period that ends November 9.


The replacement for the ill-fated National Animal Identification System, which was so unpopular with rural America that Congress cut its funding, was a late summer rollout by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Vilsack touted four standard features of the new animal disease traceability program that he thought would make it acceptable to farmers and ranchers. The four features are:

– it applies only to animals moved interstate.

– it will be run by state and tribal governments

– it will use low-cost technology

– it be be implemented only through transparent federal regulations using full rule making

If most of more than 160 comments sent to APHIS to date are any indication, the new plan is roughly as unpopular as NAIS was.  “What part of ‘NO’ is beyond your comprehension?” asks Laura Richardson of Deer Lodge, TN. “This latest salvo from USDA is NAIS all over again.”

Dale Allen Taggart, from Walking Cross Ranch at California, MO, said in written comments to the agency that the new rule will make an option mandatory.  

“It is written to help meat packers and is an export enhancement tool for our products, not a rule to help disease control or prevention, because it hurts the producers,” Taggart said.  

“Currently, we have to OPTION to source verify our beef.  This OPTION cost me $4.00 per Electronic Identification (EID) tag to purchase,” Taggart continued.  “If I hit the market with my beef, and the buyer has an order for source verified beef, I get an average of $9.00 to $10.00 per head extra.  This helps me keep my production of quality beef continuing to happen. Now, the USDA wants to make the OPTION MANDATORY.”

Taggart says the new proposal is a “a giant perk for the packers and a great export enhancement tool.”  But, Taggart says, farmers and ranchers will have to pay, again and again, to make it happen.

Also opposed is Patricia Garland Stewart with the Ashburnham, MA-based North Country Sustainability Center.  “It will make more people keep animals without proper veterinary care, cost a lot of growth in local food, and undermine the very small businesses that will grow the strongest, most diverse economy,” she says.

Not everyone is against the new ID plan.  “The Colorado Department of Agriculture endorses the proposed rule; we believe it will work in unison with programs we already have to protect Colorado’s  food system and livestock in the event of a disease outbreak,” says Dr. Keith Roehr, state veterinarian.

Colorado Brand Commissioner Rick Wahlert says there has been some confusion about the role of branding in the new ID program.  Brands are not official identification under the rule, but two states can use brands to move cattle interstate.

Brand states like Colorado do not need to change their practices under the rule, says the commissioner.

Even before the comment period ends, the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health will hold a public meeting on Friday, September 23 from noon to 5 p.m. (EST) to consider and discuss various aspects of the recently published proposed rule on traceability for livestock moving interstate.

The committee will also consider and discuss USDA’s bovine tuberculosis program, including possible wildlife surveillance requirements, test-and-remove management plans and the issue of indemnity within the context of the new bovine tuberculosis/brucellosis framework that is being developed.

In addition, just as many an agricultural group raised money and members from their opposition to NAIS, the new program is also being targeted for organized opposition.

R-CALF USA, representing independent cattlemen, claims the purpose of the new rule is to provide “source-verification information to beef packers at no cost to the packers.”

USDA sees the animal disease traceability system as a method for quickly targeting the animals involved in a disease or outbreak, an action that would benefit everyone involved.

“The animal traceability rule is extremely complex,” commented Keith Lynn Aljets at the Parnell, IA-based Veterinary Medical Clinic.  “Bovine speces are the most complicated animals to trace due to their lifespan and tendency to be transported across state lines while still at a proactive range.  The new rule provides too many exceptions regarding the identification of the bovine species which will prove impossible to document and trade when needed.”

Aljets says USDA needs to look for ways to reduce record-keeping requirements.

  • ADT is not about disease traceability. Like most government projects it is named a sweet-kind name, and really is all about fines and enforecments against cattle producers to increase goverment jobs. It is designed to downsize private enterprise and up the government. The USA imports 16% of the beef consumed so it is not about exporting, as no exporting of beef makes any sense at all for the normal cattle producer. It is all goverment red tape to control world food — designed by the WTO. For more info check Darol Dickinson

  • Donna

    I know that animal ID is necessary – but you know in certain circumstances it is not even requested by states – our state allows horses, sheep, llamas and goats to make round trips over a 96 hour period from Idaho and Oregon – no veterinary certificate needed, no check on ID – no care about an animal coming in ill to our state. And guess what, Idaho and Oregon do not reciprocate – they do not want non identified/non health certified animals coming to visit them!
    So, you can ID all the animals you want and it will still not cure disease getting across state borders.

  • I have been fighting NAIS or anything like it since I found out about it from a stranger in an email..sounds just like something out of communism…keeping track of those who own animals while real crimes and criminals go free!
    Most vets claim it is a good thing because they are fooled into thinking the emphasis is on disease control and what good vet does not want to control disease. BUT it is basically making those who are NOT in the huge markets having to pay for those who are big ag so big ag can say the meats raised on factory farms is safe to eat. So how does my telling the govt every where I go with my horse insure the Japanese are eating safe beef????

  • Horsein

    “Not everyone is against the new ID plan” That is correct, each and every State-USDA and State Vet are all for NAIS/ traceability. There is NOT ONE State that is against it. They get your tax dollars to implement this program. The NO NAIS groups all read the documents, it included your private private to have a premises id. This ID would carry over to any future property owner. All Livestock would have been required to have an ID. All livestock movement would have been reported if taken off your property. Funny how the USDA and State Vets all denied these 3 points. They must not have read the same documents that we read. NAIS has never gone away its just under a new name and the rules will be rewriten until they get what they want.