October 29, 2019
Last April, The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) posted a factsheet to provide producers with information about the Agency’s guidelines and goals related to Animal Disease Traceability. Since the Factsheet was posted, APHIS said it has listened to the livestock industry’s feedback, and said it would be scaling back its requirements that have caused concerns.
“In light of these comments and current Executive Branch policy, APHIS believes that we should revisit those guidelines. APHIS has removed the Factsheet from its Web site, as it is no longer representative of current agency policy,” APHIS said in a statement.
The guidance document stated that USDA would require the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) eartags on adult cattle and bison moved in interstate commerce beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
Representing the ranching group R-CALF USA and several of its members, Harriet Hageman of the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) filed a lawsuit on Oct. 4, 2019 in the federal district court in Casper, Wyo. alleging that the USDA's RFID mandate was unlawful and seeking to declare the mandate null and void.
APHIS said in its statement that recent executive orders have highlighted the need for transparency and communication on the issues set forth in the guidance factsheet before placing any new requirements on American farmers and ranchers.
“While the need to advance a robust joint Federal-State-Industry Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) capability remains an important USDA-APHIS objective, we will take the time to reconsider the path forward and then make a new proposal, with ample opportunity for all stakeholders to comment,” APHIS said.
“As we undertake this reconsideration of whether or when to put new requirements in place, we will encourage the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices through financial incentives that are also consistent with suggestions we have received from cow/calf producers and others. We continue to believe that RFID devices will provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases, as well as meet the growing expectations of foreign and domestic buyers,” the agency added.
APHIS said USDA’s goals to enhance Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) have not changed; our aim is to:
Encourage the use of electronic identification for animals that move interstate under the current ADT regulation;
Enhance electronic sharing of basic animal disease traceability data;
Enhance the ability to track animals from birth to slaughter; and
Increase the use of electronic health certificates
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