January 19, 2023
USDA seeks public comment on proposal to strengthen animal disease traceability regulations
The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to amend animal disease traceability regulations and require electronic identification for interstate movement of certain cattle and bison in the United States.
APHIS is also proposing to revise and clarify record requirements. These changes are expected to strengthen the US' ability to quickly respond to significant animal disease outbreaks.
"Major animal disease outbreaks hurt our ranchers and farmers and all those who support them along the supply chain, threaten our food security and impact our ability to trade America's high quality food products around the world," APHIS said. "Rapid traceability in a disease outbreak could help ranchers and farmers get back to selling their products more quickly; limit how long farms are quarantined; and keep more animals from getting sick."
Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they've been, and when, is crucial to ensure a rapid response when animal disease events take place. The USDA expressed its commitment to implement a modern system that tracks animals from birth to slaughter using affordable technology that allows for quick tracing of sick and exposed animals to stop disease spread.
APHIS has also worked extensively with stakeholders on this issue and electronic identification and records for livestock movement emerged from these discussions as valuable goals for safeguarding animal health. APHIS decided to pursue these changes through notice and comment rulemaking to ensure transparency and maximise public participation in the process.
The proposed rule would require official eartags to be visually and electronically readable for official use for interstate movement of certain cattle and bison. It would also revise and clarify certain record requirements related to cattle, including requiring official identification device distribution records to be entered into a tribal, state, or federal database, and available to APHIS upon request.
"The key to protecting US livestock health, producers' livelihoods and the US economy in an animal disease outbreak is swift detection, containment and eradication of disease," APHIS said. "This proposed rule would allow USDA to do just that."