USDA seeks comments on proposed traceability

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – A proposed rule to establish general regulations for improving the traceability of US livestock moving interstate when animal disease events take place was issued Aug. 9 by the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This notice will be published in the Aug. 11 Federal Register.

"Through the past two years, I have listened carefully to stakeholders throughout the country about how to reach effective animal disease traceability in a transparent manner without additional burden," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We are proposing a flexible approach in which states and tribes can develop systems for tracing animals that work best for them and for producers in their jurisdiction. This approach offers great flexibility at the state and local level and addresses gaps in our disease response efforts."

Unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates, under the proposed rule. The proposed rule encourages use of low-cost technology and specifies approved forms of official identification for each species, such as metal eartags for cattle.

However, recognizing the importance and prevalence of other identifications in certain regions, shipping and receiving states or tribes are permitted to agree upon alternative forms of identification, such as brands or tattoos.

"Our proposal strives to meet the diverse needs of the animal agriculture industry and our State and tribal partners, while also helping us all reach our goal of increased animal disease traceability," said John Clifford, Ph.D., chief veterinary officer for the USDA animal health inspection service. "We believe reaching our goals on traceability will help save the industry and American taxpayer's money in the long term."

Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they've been and when is very important to ensure there can be a rapid response when animal disease events take place. An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond, and decreases the cost to producers and the government.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Nov. 9. Submissions can be made via:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal; or
  • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send comments to Docket No. APHIS-2009-0091, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

Supporting documents and any comments received on this docket are available online or in the USDA reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, phone (202) 690-2817.

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