USDA issues final rule for animal disease traceability

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By Rick Greenwell

The following article is from Dr. Michelle Arnold, Large Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. I thought it was a very good article and wanted to share it with you all.

On Aug. 9, 2011, USDA issued a proposed rule to establish minimum national official identification and documentation requirements for the traceability of livestock moving interstate. Having a traceability system in place would allow the United States to trace animal disease more quickly and efficiently, thereby minimizing not only the spread of disease but also the trade impacts an outbreak may have.  

On Dec. 20, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a final rule establishing general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate.  

“With the final rule announced today, the United States now has a flexible, effective animal disease traceability system for livestock moving interstate, without undue burdens for ranchers and U.S. livestock businesses,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The final rule meets the diverse needs of the countryside where states and tribes can develop systems for tracking animals that work best for them and their producers, while addressing any gaps in our overall disease response efforts. Over the past several years, USDA has listened carefully to America’s farmers and ranchers, working collaboratively to establish a system of tools and safeguards that will help us target when and where animal diseases occur, and help us respond quickly.”

Basically, cattle moving from one state to another state will need to be 1) officially identified and 2) accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection (ICVI) or certain other documentation such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates. Specifically exempted are all cattle moving interstate directly to a custom slaughter facility.

• After considering the public comments received, the final rule has several differences from the proposed rule issued in Aug. 2011. These include: Accepting the use of brands, tattoos and brand registration as official identification. In addition to eartags, USDA is recognizing brands (when accompanied by an official brand inspection certificate) as official identification as long as the shipping and receiving States or Tribes are in agreement. Similar provisions are made for tattoos and breed registry certificates.

• Permanently maintaining the use of backtags as an alternative to official eartags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter but the animals must be slaughtered within three days of their movement to a slaughter plant.

Accepting movement documentation other than an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI) for all ages and classes of cattle when agreed upon by the shipping and receiving States or Tribes.

• 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 a separate rulemaking, allowing APHIS to work closely with the beef cattle industry.

For more specific details about the regulation and how it will affect producers, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability. The Federal Register has informed the State Veterinarian’s Office that the traceability rule will be published on January 9, 2013. This means that the effective date for traceability will be March 11, 2013.

Beginning on the effective date of final rule (currently set for March 11, 2013), all cattle and bison listed below are subject to official identification requirements when moving interstate:

• All sexually intact cattle and bison 18 months of age or over;

• All female dairy cattle of any age and all dairy males born after the effective date of final rule; Specifically, dairy cattle are defined as all cattle, regardless of age or sex or current use, that are of a breed(s) used to produce milk or other dairy products for human consumption, including, but not limited to, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Milking Shorthorn, and Red and Whites.

• Cattle and bison of any age used for rodeo or recreational events.

• Cattle and bison of any age used for shows or exhibitions.
Cattle moving interstate would be exempt from the official identification requirement when moved:

• As a commuter herd (a herd of cattle moved interstate directly between two premises without change of ownership) with a copy of the commuter herd agreement.

• Directly from a location in one State through another State to a second location in the original State.

• Directly to an approved tagging site if they are officially identified before commingling with cattle and bison from other premises.  Commingling can occur if other practices are used that will ensure the identity of the animal’s consignor is accurately maintained until tagging takes place.

• Directly to slaughter (within three days of arrival) with a USDA- approved backtag.
Also, the 2013 Fungicide Guide for Burley and Dark Tobacco is now online at:  http://www.ca.uky.edu/agcollege/plantpathology/ext_files/PPFShtml/ppfsag... Please let know if you have any questions.