WASHINGTON — The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently announced a 30-day extension of the comment period for the proposed rule on animal disease traceability.
Under the proposed 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.
The proposed rule encourages the 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.
“We have significant concerns about the substance of the rule, and we appreciate the USDA providing more time for public comment,” stated Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and vice-chair of the USDA secretary’s advisory committee on animal health.
“Our farmers are already struggling with the poor economy and terrible weather conditions in many parts of the country, and they needed additional time to be provide comment to the agency about the impact this proposed rule will have.”
“The USDA keeps saying that this is an animal health program, but it has failed to provide valid animal health reasons for it,” argued Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA. “The real push for this program comes from the giant meat packing corporations who want international standards to help their export markets.”
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 Dec. 9.
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