SALEM, Ohio — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new rule on interstate livestock traceability will become effective March 11.
USDA finalized the new rule Dec. 20. It requires general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock and poultry moving between states. Enforcement is expected to begin six to 12 months after the rule becomes effective, to allow producers and states time to adjust.
Under the final rule, 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.
Beef cattle under 18 months of age are exempt from the ID requirement, as are animals that are being moved to a custom slaughter facility.
If you are taking livestock of any age across state lines for shows, exhibits, rodeos or recreational events, you will need identification.
While it was being developed, the rule received substantial input from the country’s livestock organizations, many of which now say the law will be something they can support.
“We are encouraged that many of the priorities of cattlemen and women have been included in this final rule,” said Kathy Simmons, chief veterinarian for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
“USDA APHIS listened to the voices of livestock producers when drafting this rule and the final product is one that will help reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduce the time needed to respond and decrease the cost to producers.”
Elizabeth Harsh, executive director for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, said most producers already do a good job of identifying and marking their cattle and should be able to comply with the new law fairly easily.
“Most producers already utilize some form of animal identification so they can evaluate genetics and health procedures,” she said.
Darol Dickinson, region 8 director for R-CALF USA, said he’s glad the new rule is different from the National Animal Identification System, a now-abandoned effort to document livestock in the United States.
He is manager of Dickinson Cattle Co. near Barnesville and represents R-CALF farmers in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.
He was worried the national identification program (NAIS) would have been too onerous for producers and have required them to keep computerized records of all their farm animals.“We are so pleased that it is so much less of a burden on all cattle people than the original NAIS enforcements were,” Dickinson said.
But he doesn’t see an end in sight.“It’s always scary when you’ve got USDA or any government branch making rules,” he said. “You just don’t know when they’re going to quit.”For more specific details about the regulation and how it will affect producers, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability.