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USDA announces cooperative funding for cattle RFID project proposals

Funding will support up to five projects that help increase accuracy, efficiency and cost effectiveness of collecting key pieces of traceability information.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced the availability of $1 million in cooperative agreement funding to support animal disease traceability (ADT) and electronic identification for cattle.

According to APHIS, the money will fund between two and five projects that are designed to help USDA increase the accuracy, efficiency and cost effectiveness of collecting key pieces of traceability information while also supporting the cattle industry’s management and marketing needs.

These projects will document how to link ultra-high frequency (UHF) back tags with other identification devices to collect animal movement and disease program data while still maintaining the speed of commerce. Back tags are used extensively in livestock markets, and the agency said it needs to learn more about how adding radio-frequency identification functionality will support traceability in these high-volume, fast-paced environments. The projects will gather important real-world data to help USDA, states, tribes and industry advance ADT and implement electronic identification.

ADT helps animal health officials know where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they’ve been and when, APHIS said. This helps ensure a rapid response during disease events, which can reduce the number of animals and the response time, ultimately reducing the economic impact on owners and affected communities.

States and tribes can work with industry or academic groups to design and implement their projects and gather the necessary data to advance traceability and benefit the livestock industry. To meet the goals for this funding, the projects will demonstrate how to capture animal movement data at the speed of commerce and how the data can be stored and shared for traceability purposes. Specifically, the projects would address some or all of these objectives:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness, economic feasibility and durability of UHF back tags;
  • Document what ability back tags have to supplement non-UHF official identification in various livestock settings;
  • Develop mechanisms/ processes for advancing the use of electronic identification and records;
  • Define effective and sustainable models of data sharing among the industry, states and USDA;
  • Integrate third-party data systems into USDA’s Animal Health Events Repository (sharing private information with USDA is not necessary to participate in the repository system);
  • Conduct outreach and education to help producers understand the long-term value of a traceability system to the cattle industry, and
  • Help producers get premises identification numbers and official tags simply by industry groups serving as tag managers.

Projects are anticipated to begin during or before the summer of 2019.

Interested cooperators are encouraged to work collaboratively with their state animal health official and apply no later than June 7, 2019, by following the instructions on Grants.gov and searching for “Radio Frequency Identification Project.”

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