December 12, 2019


RFID cattle tracking plan cancelled by USDA: report


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has rescinded plans to replace visual cattle tags with radio frequency (RFID) tracking for interstate cattle transport, reported the American Veterinary Medical Association.


The introduction of RFID tags was first announced by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) back in April 2019 to be affixed on cattle crossing state borders by 2023, but the agency announced in October 2019 it would revisit the guidelines due to concerns by livestock industry members (


The announcement on October 2019 emphasised on the need for RFID tags to track livestock during an outbreak of a disease and to meet domestic and foreign buyers demands. APHIS was to provide financial incentives to encourage producers to affix the RFID devices.


The new RFID tracking devices allow electronic scanning and tracking, so health officials can search for livestock and find out its transportation history within hours, compared to weeks or months using the current metal identification tags.


The original plan would mean all cattle and bison (except for cattle transported for slaughter and beef cattle under 18 months, not transported to exhibitions or recreation events) to be affixed with RFID tags.


Dr. K Fred Gingrich, American Association of Bovine Practitioners executive director hopes the transition to RFID tags is only delayed, as cattle veterinarians welcome the introduction of RFID tagging.


The issuing of free state and tribe metal identification tags would have been stopped by APHIS by end 2019, though approved vendors will still be able to make these tags through next year.


Removing the free option would have supported the change to RFID tags, said Dr. Gingrich.


He added that while costs to switch to RFID tags are a concern for producers, many large dairies have already implemented RFID tracking for herd management.


-      American Veterinary Medical Association