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APHIS clarifies animal disease traceability requirements

USDA will not be requiring RFID eartags for cattle beginning in 2023.

Last April, The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) posted a fact sheet to provide producers with information about the agency’s guidelines and goals related to Animal Disease Traceability. Since the fact sheet was posted, APHIS said it has listened to the livestock industry’s feedback and will 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 fact sheet from its website, 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 on Jan. 1, 2023.

Representing the ranching group R-CALF USA and several of its members, Harriet Hageman of the New Civil Liberties Alliance filed a lawsuit on Oct. 4, 2019, in the federal district court in Casper, Wyo., alleging that USDA's RFID mandate is 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 fact sheet before placing any new requirements on American farmers and ranchers.

“While the need to advance a robust joint federal/state/industry Animal Disease Traceability 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 have not changed; the aim is to:

  • Encourage the use of electronic identification for animals that move interstate under the current Animal Disease Traceability 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.
TAGS: Policy
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