The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) has published new rules governing the traceability of interstate livestock movement in the Jan. 9 Federal Register. These rules are scheduled to take effect March 11.

APHIS says traceability does not prevent disease, but knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they have been, and when, is indispensable in emergency response and in ongoing disease control and eradication programs.

One current concern that can be addressed by these rule changes include the increasing number of bovine tuberculosis, and APHIS says these rules can also help to ensure that the livestock industry is well-prepared to respond to new or foreign animal diseases in the future.

The purpose of the proposed rule was to improve the ability to trace livestock in the event that disease is found. New or modified regulations of interest to cattle producers/veterinarians include:

  • Extending the phase-out period for manufacturer-coded AINs from 12 months to 24 months to make the transition less burdensome for producers.
  • Revising the definition of official eartag and adding a new definition of official eartag shield. These changes will allow the use of State or Tribal postal abbreviation or codes within the U.S. Route Shield in lieu of ‘‘U.S.’’
  • Revising the language of the exemption from the traceability requirements for animals moved interstate to custom slaughter to indicate clearly that the exemption applies to all interstate movement to a custom slaughter facility. The proposed rule contained language that implied that the meat must be consumed by the person moving the animal to custom slaughter. This was not the intent of the proposed rule.
  • In addition to eartags, in this final rule, USDA is recognizing brands, when accompanied by an official brand inspection certificate as means of official identification for cattle when the shipping and receiving States or Tribes are in agreement. This change is being made in response to the many comments received on this issue advocating that USDA retain brands as a means of official identification for cattle. Additionally, USDA is allowing similar provisions for tattoos and breed registry certificates.
  • USDA will make feeder cattle (cattle under 18 months of age) subject to official identification requirements in a separate rulemaking rather than in this one.
  • USDA will continue to allow backtags to be used in lieu of official identification on direct-to-slaughter cattle rather than eventually requiring official identification, as it had originally proposed. USDA is stipulating, however, that for backtags to be used on such animals, the animals will have to be slaughtered within 3 days of their movement to the slaughter plant.
  • USDA is no longer requiring that cattle and bison moved interstate to an approved tagging site be officially identified at the site prior to commingling with cattle or bison from other premises. Under this final rule, commingling can occur prior to official identification provided that other practices are used that will ensure that the identity of the animal’s consignor is accurately maintained until the animal is tagged with an official eartag. This change is being made in response to numerous comments expressing concerns that operations at approved tagging sites could be slowed during busy periods.
  • USDA is clarifying the circumstances under which multiple official identification methods, including official eartags, may be used on the same animal.
  • USDA is allowing the use of other interstate movement documentation, in lieu of an ICVI, as agreed to by the shipping and receiving States or Tribes, for cattle and bison of all ages. The proposed rule only allowed such an exemption for cattle and bison under 18 month of age.

Read the full Federal Register notice.