Final Traceability Rule Issued by USDA

USDA has announced a final rule establishing general regulations for improving traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack this is a flexible, effective animal disease traceability system without undue burdens for ranchers and U.S. livestock businesses. He says the final rule meets the diverse needs of the countryside where states and tribes can develop systems that work best for them and their producers - while addressing gaps in overall disease response efforts. According to Vilsack - USDA has listened to America's farmers and ranchers the past several years - working collaboratively to establish a system of tools and safeguards that will help USDA target when and where animal diseases occur - and respond quickly.

Unless specifically exempted - livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate livestock certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation - such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates - under this final rule.

USDA notes the final rule has several differences from the proposed rule issued in August of 2011. One difference is the acceptance of brands, tattoos and brand registration as official identification when accepted by the shipping and receiving states or tribes. The rule also permanently maintains the use of backtags as an alternative to official eartags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter. A couple of exemptions are also different in the final rule. All livestock moved interstate to a custom slaughter facility are exempt from the regulations and chicks moved interstate from a hatchery are exempt from the official identification requirements.

It's also worth noting that beef cattle under 18-months of age - unless moved interstate for shows, exhibitions, rodeos or recreational events - are exempt from the official identification requirement in the rule. USDA says specific traceability requirements for this group will be addressed in separate rulemaking - allowing the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to work closely with industry to ensure the effective implementation of the identification requirements.

Visit www dot aphis dot usda dot gov slash traceability (www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability) for more specific details about the regulation and how it will affect producers.

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