LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has levied more than $22,000 in fines against two Michigan livestock dealers who illegally moved calves without official Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.
All cattle are required to bear RFID tags in the state of Michigan before they are moved from any property.
The dealers were also fined for failure to keep adequate records and dealing in livestock without a license, violations of the Livestock Dealers Act, and the Animal Industry Act.
In February of 2013, a dairy herd in Saginaw County was diagnosed with bovine TB. Michigan ag department trace investigators discovered the farm owner sold, and two dealers bought, calves without the required RFID tags.
An animal disease investigation includes tracking cattle sold from a bovine TB positive farm.
With an RFID tag, scanned with an electronic reader, it only takes a day or two to find the animals, according to Al Rodriquez, MDARD’s Animal Industry Division compliance officer. But this investigation took over four months, additional contacts, and reviews of books and sales receipts to find the animals.
“Without RFID, it’s difficult to confirm we are testing the correct animals, so instead of one steer, an entire herd needs to be tested — that’s a huge impact on our cattle farmers,” Rodriquez said.
The Gratiot County livestock dealer waived his rights to a formal hearing and agreed to have his livestock dealer’s license revoked for the remainder of 2013, plus two additional years for improper record keeping.
He was assessed a fine of $11,325 for movement of approximately 53 calves without bearing official RFID.
A second livestock dealer waived his rights to a formal hearing and received a fine of $11,320 for the movement of cattle without official RFID tags from a premises.
Rodriquez said the agriculture department plans on increasing livestock movement enforcement efforts to boost compliance.