KANSAS CITY, MO. – Cargill is joining forces with multiple state cattlemen’s organizations in an effort to help develop a national infrastructure for animal disease traceability in the US cattle industry. As part of this endeavor, the beef processor has joined US CattleTrace as an official packer member.
The goal of US CattleTrace is to assist animal health officials by responding to foreign animal disease events within the US cattle herd. Tracing animal disease outbreaks will help control impact to daily operations and help maintain access to beef export markets.
“Reducing the impact of disease is critical for the US beef herd which is why we’re excited to join the US CattleTrace program and champion its efforts to improve global competitiveness and food safety across the value chain,” said Jarrod Gillig, business operations and supply chain lead for Cargill’s North American protein business. “At Cargill, we’ve long been focused on enhancing the traceability and resilience of our supply chains and believe our partnership with US CattleTrace can help move the industry forward.”
US CattleTrace collects data on animals in the US beef system using eartags and radio frequency (RFID) technologies. Data on the animals includes individual animal identification numbers as well as the date, time and GPS location of the animal. In the event of an animal disease outbreak, animals can be tracked. Animals can also be tracked from birth location to each location they move to during the harvesting process. Ear tags with electronic chips interact with the radio frequency emitted by the reader.
“Cargill is a leader of sustainability in the agricultural industry, so to have them as a partner in animal health and disease traceability in our country is exciting,” said Brandon Depenbusch, chair of the US CattleTrace Board of Directors. “Cattle industry leaders have provided input that in order to create and sustain a producer-led traceability system, all industry sectors need to be involved. This commitment from an industry leader shows that no-matter where we come from in the cattle industry, we are all working towards a common goal of protecting our nation's herd and the highest quality, most sustainable beef product in the world.”
The new US CattleTrace initiative combines the efforts of CattleTrace, which formerly included multiple partners from across the country, as well as traceability pilot projects in Florida and Texas. The partner organizations include the Kansas Livestock Association, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association.
CattleTrace Inc. was established as a private, not-for-profit corporation to maintain and manage the data collected as part of the disease traceability pilot project in August 2018. A board of directors with representatives from cow-calf, livestock market and cattle feeding sectors was then named to lead CattleTrace Inc. In January 2020, the board voted to change the name to US CattleTrace Inc. to establish itself as a multi-state initiative.