THE U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published its final animal disease traceability (ADT) rule in the Jan. 9 Federal Register.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack first announced the intent to publish the final rule last month (Feedstuffs, Dec. 24, 2012). Now that it has been published, the rule becomes effective March 11, 2013.
The final ADT rule establishes general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate. Under the rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate must be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection (ICVI) or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates.
The final rule allows the use of brands, tattoos and brand registration as official identification when accepted by the shipping and receiving states or tribes. Back tags will be accepted as an alternative to official ear tags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter.
It was welcomed by the agricultural community as a flexible approach without burdening livestock producers.
Many major livestock-producing countries, including Canada, the European Union and Japan, have implemented or are implementing animal traceability systems, and most importing countries require such a system as a condition for importing meat, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) pointed out.
"An effective traceability system is critical to our nation's animal health infrastructure and is one of the components the World Organization for Animal Health considers essential for an effective veterinary services program," said NPPC president R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C. "The goal of a traceability system is traceback of an animal to its farm of origin within 48 hours of the discovery of a disease. That would allow a disease to be brought under control and eradicated more quickly, saving animals -- and taxpayer dollars -- and keeping foreign markets open to our exports."
National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. chief veterinarian Dr. Kathy Simmons said many of cattle producers' priorities were included in the final ADT rule.
"USDA APHIS listened to the voices of livestock producers when drafting this rule, and the final product is one that will help reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduce the time needed to respond and decrease the cost to producers," Simmons said.
Though the final rule mainly focuses on cattle, it leaves in place existing poultry-related traceability regimes and requires records to be retained for poultry for two years.
Although generally supportive of agency efforts to implement traceability programs, the National Chicken Council (NCC), in comments on the proposed rule, voiced concern with APHIS's decision to apply a one-size-fits-all, cattle-based traceability system to poultry and also specifically with the proposed requirement that records be kept for five years for all species.
The preamble to the final rule recognizes the effectiveness of the existing poultry traceability program under the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) and leaves that program largely in place, NCC said in a statement.
NCC vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs Dr. Ashley Peterson said APHIS took some of the group's comments into account in the formulation of the final rule, including reducing the recordkeeping requirements for poultry to two years.
Unless an exception applies, poultry moved interstate must be identified using sealed and numbered leg bands per NPIP, marked with a group/lot identification (when such numbering is appropriate) or by an alternative method recognized by the states or tribes shipping or receiving the birds.
Poultry moving interstate must be accompanied by an ICVI unless the birds meet certain conditions.
Poultry moved to a custom slaughter facility are exempt from the traceability regulations. Additionally, poultry belonging to growers who are not part of NPIP are exempt from official identification requirements, but the person responsible for the birds received from the hatchery or redistributor must maintain a record of where the birds were obtained.
In 1988, the U.S. pork industry established a swine identification system, which helped eradicate pseudorabies from the commercial herd. It since has enhanced the system by registering more than 99% of the premises of the nation's 67,000 pork producers and asking pork packers to require premises registration as a condition of sale.