Animal ID Rule Seen As A Win For Livestock Producers

Animal ID Rule Seen As A Win For Livestock Producers

USDA on December 20 announced the final rule on animal disease traceability for livestock moving between states.

The Livestock Marketing Association or LMA is applauding USDA's final Animal Disease Traceability rule, or ADT. Issued a couple weeks ago, the new rule is seen by LMA as something that will work well for both livestock producers and animal health officials. 

LIVESTOCK TRACEABILITY: USDA's final rule on animal disease traceability was announced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on December 20. "This is a major accomplishment that I believe meets the diversity of the countryside where states can develop systems of tracking animals that will work best for them," he said.

Animal disease traceability—knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are , where they've been and when—is important to ensure a rapid response when animal disease events take place, said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, when he announced the new rule on December 20. An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond, and decreases the cost to livestock producers and the government.

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 final rule has several differences from the proposed rule issued by USDA in August 2011.

Final animal ID rule has differences from the proposed rule first issued by USDA

These differences include: 1) Accepting the use of brands, tattoos and brand registration as official identification when accepted by shipping and receiving states; 2) permanently maintaining use of backtags as an alternative to official eartags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter; 3) accepting movement documentation other than an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for all ages and classes of cattle when accepted by the shipping and receiving states. 4) classifying that all livestock moved interstate to a custom slaughter facility are exempt from the regulations.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Young cattle are exempt from the new animal ID rule. Beef cattle under 18 months of age, unless they are moved interstate for shows, exhibitions, rodeos or recreational events, are exempt from the official identification requirement in this rule. These specific traceability requirements for this group will be addressed in separate rule-making, allowing USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to ensure the effective implementation of the identification requirements.

Livestock auction markets praise USDA's final rule for improving traceability

Representatives from LMA praise USDA's final rule for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate. During the past 10 years, LMA has been an advocate for finding a workable, simple, and cost-efficient system. Seeing a need for cooperation and dialogue, LMA brought together 14 organizations in the livestock industry to form the Cattle ID Group or CIDG.

"With publication of the ADT final rule the cattle industry took a giant step forward," says Nancy Robinson, CIDG coordinator and LMA's vice president for government and industry affairs. "It is clear that USDA heard the industry's voice regarding this issue, which has great effect and economic significance to the industry."

Livestock groups will remain closely involved in implementing the new program

"Forming the CIDG, to respond to USDA's development of a national animal disease traceability program has proven its value," said Robinson. "The final rule shows that USDA has been very responsive to the CIDG and its member organizations' concerns about the rulemaking process." 

As implementation of the national program for the adult cattle herd begins in the individual states, the CIDG and its member organizations expect to remain closely involved to assure that the ADT program remains a viable tool for the industry as well as federal, state and tribe animal health officials.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

During a call to discuss the new rule with industry partners, Dr.  John R. Clifford, deputy administrator and chief veterinary officer for APHIS veterinary services program at USDA, thanked Robinson for her "leadership in bringing cattle industry issues forward through the CIDG and working to get them resolved."

Livestock auction markets have great interest in creating workable animal ID system

Livestock auction owners have a vested interest in creating a viable ID/traceability system for themselves and the producers they serve. "LMA is no stranger to animal ID and traceability in livestock markets," says Tim Starks, DVM, LMA's president and owner/operator of Cherokee Sales Company in Cherokee, Okla. "Market owners and managers understand the important role they play in helping to control and eliminate economically significant cattle diseases from the nation's livestock herd."

Starks points to the success in recent years in eradicating diseases such as Brucellosis and helping to bring Tuberculosis under control.

Cattle industry's job isn't finished, even though rules have now been published

The cattle industry's job is not finished with the publication of the ADT rules by USDA a couple weeks ago. "We have much to do in overseeing the implementation of the ADT program to ensure that the way we envision the program is not derailed or left to the devices of others less invested in our industry," says Starks, "We will keep working to accomplish the industry and USDA's mutual goals for an effective, efficient and timely animal disease traceability system for the nation's cattle herd."

LMA's regional executive officers have already started working with members and animal health officials in the states they represent to begin, as soon as possible, the ADT implementation process at their facilities. "ADT is now the law of the land and I urge my fellow market operators to cooperate to the greatest degree possible to make this program work for their individual operations and for all concerned," says Starks.

About the Livestock Marketing Association: The Livestock Marketing Association, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, is North America's largest membership organization dedicated to supporting, representing and communicating with and for the entire livestock marketing sector. LMA has approximately 800 member businesses across the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit the LMA website.

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