Animal Traceability System Is Still Being Developed

Animal Traceability System Is Still Being Developed

Areas of consensus developed among industry and regulatory leaders in ongoing animal disease traceability debate. It is detailed in a new report which is available online.

Strong and ongoing collaboration among livestock producers, commercial interests and regulatory agencies at both the state and federal level is the key to having successful animal disease traceability in the United States.

This is just one point of agreement included in a new report on the discussions at the Joint Strategy Forum on Animal Disease Traceability Forum developed by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, and the U.S. Animal Health Association and held in August in Denver, Colo.

The report summarizes the main discussion points reached by the 193 individuals who attended the forum—representing 43 states, four tribes, 33 state animal health agencies, 38 industry organizations, 8 universities and 34 producers and supply companies. In addition, representatives from Canada, Mexico and Japan also attended.

Forum attendees see a significant need for more efficient and effective animal disease traceability among all states and livestock species. The report includes notes from the forum discussions on several topics including:

  • The inclusion of identifying feeder cattle after a workable system is in place for adult cattle.
  • The use and relevance of "Brite" tags, back tags and brands.
  • Reasonable timelines and benchmarks for states to implement a traceability system.
  • How to accommodate the needs of different species.
  • Uniform data collection among states.
  • The use of official "840" eartags for U.S. born animals.
  • Education and outreach to animal producers, handlers, marketers and processors in regard to new requirements.

Focus of the forum was on the preliminary directions the Traceability Regulation Working Group are suggesting in the areas of official identification, exemptions, performance standards, compliance components, recordkeeping requirements, and proposed timelines.

USDA and others working together to develop traceability framework

Efforts to develop animal identification methods and systems to provide traceability have been underway for several years; however issues such as data confidentiality, system costs, a lack of understanding of device and reader technology, and a lack of standardization has led to frustration and pushback from producers. In February 2010, USDA announced a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the U.S. The framework is projected to provide the basic tenets of an improved animal disease traceability capability. USDA suggests it will:

  • Only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce;
  • Be administered by the states to provide more flexibility;
  • Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and
  • Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.

Following the announcement of the new direction, state animal health officials, through the Traceability Regulation Working Group have been developing the basic tenants of the new traceability framework. It's anticipated USDA will draft a proposed rule on animal disease traceability which is projected to be published by April, 2011 and provide for a 60- to 90-day public comment period.

Visit for more information about the meeting and to download the report. In addition, other animal disease traceability resources are available at the website.

What is the National Institute For Animal Agriculture?

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture is a nonprofit, membership-driven organization that unites and advances animal agriculture: the beef, dairy, equine, goat, poultry, sheep and swine industries. NIAA is dedicated to programs that work toward the eradication of diseases that pose risk to the health of animals, wildlife and humans; promote a safe and wholesome food supply for our nation and abroad; and promote best practices in environmental stewardship, animal health and well-being. Farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, scientists, state and federal officials and business executives comprise NIAA's membership. More information is available at

The U.S. Animal Health Association, this nation's animal health forum for over a century, is a science-based, dues-supported, voluntary organization whose membership includes state, federal and international animal and public health agencies, allied industry and professional organizations, as well as individual members representing academia, animal owners and animal health professionals. USAHA primarily serves as a forum for communication and coordination among animal health constituents on issues of animal health and disease control, animal welfare, food safety and public health. USAHA operates with 32 species and subject oriented committees, and hosts an annual meeting each year with the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. More information is available at

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.