APHIS moving toward next steps in traceability

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With a letter to stakeholders this week, Kevin Shea, administrator of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced new steps toward full implementation of the federal Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) system. Those steps, he says, include exercising and testing the system, further educating producers and others about ADT requirements and, eventually, initiating enforcement actions for non-compliance.

APHIS published its final rule Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate in January 2013, and the rule took effect on March 11, 2013. The ADT program intends to provide traceability of animals to their farms of origin in case of a disease outbreak, while offering individual states and tribes flexibility in how they manage their systems to meet program standards.  Over the past year, Shea says the number of authorized tag distributors has expanded, there is a far greater variety of official identification devices on the market, and several States are working to make health certificates more mobile for use in the field.

In his letter, Shea stresses that APHIS does not intend to immediately begin enforcing ADT rules. During March, APHIS plans to evaluate identification of livestock moved interstate and begin identifying individuals who are not meeting program requirements. “When we do so,” Shea says, “our local Veterinary Services Area District Director will contact them in writing to help guide them through the process for meeting the program requirements, including providing them with details on how to obtain the necessary official identification devices or movement documentation.” APHIS also plans to provide contact information and make personnel available to answer questions about the program from producers, veterinarians or others involved in the livestock-marketing chain.

As it currently stands, the ADT rule requires identification for certain classes of cattle destined for interstate shipment. All sexually intact cattle 18 months of age or older fall under the rule, as do dairy breed cattle of any age or sex, and all cattle transported to shows, exhibits or rodeos. Beef calves and feeder cattle less than 18 months of age are not covered by the rule. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has stated its intention to address those classes of cattle in a separate, future rulemaking process.

Covered classes of cattle moving across state lines need official identification and documentation. The default or “gold-standard” documentation is the Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI). Some other documents such as brand inspection certificates can work in place of the ICVI if the shipping and receiving states have agreed upon the documents. Likewise, in addition to official ear tags, brands or breed-registry tattoos can meet program requirements if the shipping and receiving states have such an agreement.

Read the full stakeholder letter from APHIS administrator Kevin Shea

Read more about the ADT rule from USDA/APHIS.

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AZ/NM  |  March, 08, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Gotta love the "stakeholder" letter: APHIS is about "protecting...markets and your profitability" and that exports are "essential...to the success of livestock industries...." The individual most affected is the cow-calf producer. At APHIS' listening sessions several years ago for NAIS, there was absolutely no producer support. This was also borne out in written comments. So what did APHIS do? It renamed the program from NAIS to ADT, temporarily withdrew it, and then came back with with its mandate. APHIS never listened to cattle producers. It is imposing by administrative fiat a program which is not needed, is not workable, and which lacks statutory authority. Ironically, at the same time, APHIS is moving to regionalize Brazil and allow for the importation of fresh beef. USDA/APHIS talks of protecting our profitability but it is in fact a great hindrance to our profitability.

Smalley Cattle Co    
Georgia  |  March, 08, 2014 at 10:50 AM

"...a program which is not needed" Insurance is a program that is not needed until one finds himself in a jam. Then he's glad he had it. One of these days WHEN the US has a disease like Foot and Mouth hit it, you'll wish we the NAIS. The ADT is better than nothing but I don't think it will work fast enough.

OK  |  March, 08, 2014 at 12:57 PM

I guess I am missing something here. As a producer who wants my cattle safe from theft, I am for mandatory ID of some sort. If every animal going through a sale barn had to have a recognized ID of some sort that was put into a database by the producer and could be tracked by a computer network, the only potential thieves would be other producers who could substitute the original ID with their own, but the "pool of potential thieves" would be much smaller and they could be tracked down much easier. I realize that it, also, gives the IRS a better handle on our sales, but we do report all of our income, don't we?

AZ/NM  |  March, 08, 2014 at 01:16 PM

First, I can choose insurance if I want it. More importantly, however, border interdiction has served this nation very well for many decades. It makes no sense to relax protocols as APHIS is seeking to do with Brazil and then say we will manage FMD upon arrival via ADT. The UK has long had an animal ID system. Was it used effectively during their FMD outbreak? According to a detailed study published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, traceability was never mentioned; rather, perimeters were set up and then the work of epidemiology worked inward from the perimeter. This is the same thing that will happen in this country. FMD spreads too rapidly for ADT to be of any value. I run a closed herd and do not need APHIS to protect me. I do need them to interdict disease at the border. They've failed on this score with Mexico--75% of slaughter surveillance TB cases originated in Mexico according to APHIS' own study. Their answer: use ADT to manage TB upon arrival rather than interdict the same at the border.

AZ/NM  |  March, 08, 2014 at 01:22 PM

In the two states we operate, we have a great ID system--the hot brand. ADT will lead to taxation except it will be called a user fee to manage the program. One-third of the cattle in this country originate in hot brand states.

SD  |  March, 11, 2014 at 07:14 PM

Ditto Jay. Another thing APHIS states "A fully functioning traceability system is also critical to providing the information and assurances trading partners expect." APHIS already has voluntary ID programs that trace back cattle to the ranch of origin for producers who want to export cattle so there is really no need to ID my cattle with a ear tag if I choose not to export my cattle. Proof of ownership with a tag will not work as tags can and will be cut out. Also tag retention in cattle that graze in brushy areas, eat from round bale feeders, graze in barb wire fenced pastures and cattle that are raised in the cold northern climates freeze their ears and consequently lose tags. The only reliable time tested proof of ownership that works is a registered hot iron brand and brand inspection to verify ownership. This works very well for traceability as a hot iron brand leaves a permanent mark that can not be erased.