USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has proposed a rule to establish general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate when animal disease events take place. Under the proposed rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates.
The proposed rule does encourage the use of low-cost technology and specifies approved forms of official identification for each species, such as metal ear tags for cattle. However, recognizing the importance and prevalence of other identifications in certain regions, shipping and receiving states or tribes are permitted to agree upon alternative forms of identification such as brands or tattoos.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it's flexible approach in which states and tribes can develop systems for tracing animals that work best for them and for producers in their jurisdiction and addresses gaps in the nation's disease response efforts. Vilsack says traces in the sheep industry with high levels of identification have taken minutes, while B-T traces in cattle have taken over 150 days.
USDA Chief Veterinarian John Clifford says the new system should avoid problems in the auction barn that some complained last year would impede sales. He says buyers will get certificates for the animals if they are moving interstate, which can be done after the sale, it does not have to be done during the sale.
Producers may submit comments on the rule, but must do so before Nov. 9. Comments can be made by clicking HERE.
The National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and National Farmers Union are pleased USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's proposed rule to improve animal traceability will be published for comment. NPPC and NFU says this is a significant step in the right direction for animal disease traceability. NFU President Roger Johnson says the ability to trace, track and quarantine livestock during a disease outbreak will help minimize the economic impact it will have on the ag industry and rural America.
All three organizations encourage USDA to continue working with industry leaders on this and all animal health issues, and also to move this rule through the full rulemaking and implementation process quickly. NCBA Chief Veterinarian Elizabeth Parker says NCBA will carefully analyze and comment on the proposed rule, and continue to work with industry groups and officials throughout the rulemaking process to ensure the best interests of its members.