WASHINGTON — The USDA last week announced a final rule establishing general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate.
“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,” he said.
Under the final 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.
After considering public comments, the final rule has several differences from the proposed rule issued in August 2011. These include:
Accepting the use of brands, tattoos and brand registration as official identification when accepted by the shipping and receiving states or tribes.
Permanently maintaining the use of backtags as an alternative to official eartags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter.
Accepting movement documentation other than an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI) for all ages and classes of cattle when accepted by the shipping and receiving states or tribes.
Clarifying that all livestock moved interstate to a custom slaughter facility are exempt from the regulations.
Exempting chicks moved interstate from a hatchery from the official identification requirements.
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 the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, to work closely with industry to ensure the effective implementation of the identification requirements.
For more details about the regulation and how it will affect producers, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability.