USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to amend animal disease traceability regulations and require electronic identification for the interstate movement of certain cattle and bison.
The change will permit official USDA tags as those that are both visually and electronically readable.
APHIS is also proposing to revise and clarify record requirements to strengthen the Nation’s ability to quickly respond to significant animal disease outbreaks.
Major animal disease outbreaks hurt ranchers and farmers and all those who support them along the supply chain, threaten food security, and impact the ability to trade America’s high-quality food products around the world.
Rapid traceability in a disease outbreak could help ranchers and farmers get back to selling their products more quickly; limit how long farms are quarantined; and keep more animals from getting sick.
Interested stakeholders may view the proposed rule in today’s Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2023-00505/use-of-electronic-identification-eartags-as-official-identification-in-cattle-and-bison.
Beginning today, members of the public may submit comments. All comments must be received by March 22, 2023. APHIS will review all comments and address them in a final rule.
Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they’ve been and when, is important to ensuring a rapid response when animal disease events take place., according to APHIS.
USDA is committed to implementing a modern system that tracks animals from birth to slaughter using affordable technology that allows for quick tracing of sick and exposed animals to stop disease spread.
APHIS claims it worked extensively with stakeholders on this issue and electronic identification and records for livestock movement emerged from these discussions as valuable goals for safeguarding animal health. APHIS decided to pursue these changes through notice and comment rulemaking to ensure transparency and maximize public participation in the process.
In a statement, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said about 89 percent of the national herd of approximately 100 million cattle and bison will not be impacted by the changes in this proposal.
The USCA reports the amendment would only apply to certain classes of cattle that are crossing state lines and meet any of the following conditions: sexually intact and 18 months of age or older; all female dairy cattle of any age and male dairy animals born after March 11, 2013; cattle and bison of any age used for rodeo or recreational events; and cattle or bison of any age used for shows or exhibitions.
USDA will for now remain technology neutral, meaning the department will not standardize one frequency tag for use. USCA says its members understand the importance of building an animal disease traceability system that doesn’t burden producers, is effective for disease tracebacks, and maintains the confidentiality of individuals.
It has not yet crafted its policy position and comments concerning the proposed rule to require official ear tags to be visually and electronically readable for official use for interstate movement of certain cattle and bison.
The key to protecting U.S. livestock health, producers’ livelihoods, and the U.S. economy in an animal disease outbreak is swift detection, containment, and eradication of the disease. APHIS says this proposed rule would allow USDA to do just that.
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