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USDA Finalizes Animal Disease Traceability Rule

January 8, 2013

On December 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a final rule establishing general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate. Under final animal disease traceability 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.

NMPF’s initial reaction is that the rule is a good start, but it does not meet the organization’s policy of requiring RFID tags and 48 hour traceability. The animal disease traceability final rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register on January 9, 2013.

NMPF had commented on the proposed rule, expressing support for mandatory animal identification and disease traceability to serve as a collective industry insurance policy against catastrophic animal disease outbreaks. The dairy industry has taken a strong proactive stance in advocating mandatory animal identification and disease traceability.

The rule contained the following important information for dairy producers:

  • All dairy cattle females, regardless of age, and all male dairy cattle (including dairy steers) that are born after March 11, 2013, will be required to be officially identified (by a device or method approved by USDA) prior to interstate movement.
    o The Final Rule defines dairy cattle as: “All cattle, regardless of age or sex or current use, that are of a breed(s) used to produce milk or other dairy products for human consumption, including, but not limited to, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Milking Shorthorn, and Red and Whites.”
  • Individual animal identification can be done by a variety of options approved by USDA, including RFID and “brite” tags.
    o Beginning March 11, 2015, only identification devices beginning with 840 or other prefix representing U.S. territories will be recognized as official identification.
    o NMPF policy supports the use of official 840-RFID tags for dairy cattle identification.
  • All dairy cattle moving interstate must be accompanied by Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection or other documentation as agreed to by the receiving state.

For more information on USDA’s final animal disease traceability rule, the following documents are available online:

Please contact NMPF’s Jamie Jonker with any questions.