COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the US Animal Health Association will be hosting the 2017 Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability in Denver Sept. 26-27.

The event will serve as an update of the impact of the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program. The success of the program is a result of a collaboration among producers, commercial interests and regulatory agencies of the state, tribal and federal levels.

ADT Program updates and an assessment report of its implementation from 2013-2016 will be presented at the forum by speakers Neil Hammerschmidt, program manager of  Animal Disease Traceability at USDA APHIS Veterinary Services and Sunny Geiser-Novotny, cattle health staff/animal disease traceability veterinarian, USDA APHIS.

“We will be bringing reports to the forum that reflect the status of the ADT program and a summary of the discussions we’ve had the past several months through various outreach activities including nine public meetings,” Hammerschmidt said. “Feedback and suggestions from a state and federal working group addressing current traceability gaps will also be presented.”

Forum participants will have an opportunity to discuss those preliminary recommendations and suggestions, which will help the USDA consider how to move forward with ADT from a program perspective.

“We've listened to the industry for months,” Hammerschmidt said. “We know the challenges, we have recommendations, and now we are open to more. But we need to understand what concepts are supported by the industry, so the USDA can consider what’s proposed accordingly.”

The focus of the forum will be on cattle traceability. However, many of the ideas discussed can be used in other animal industries like sheep and goats. One of the major changes up for discussion at the forum is moving forward with electronic identification.

“The support for electronic ID has grown, now that the industry has tested and implemented parts of electronic ID more successfully,” Hammerschmidt said.

As for what is next in livestock traceability, Hammerschmidt acknowledges that including beef feeder cattle in the official ID requirement is important in the long-term, but the immediate priority is to address current shortfalls and problematic issues in the classes of cattle currently covered.