USDA’s animal disease traceability has begun

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Column by Doug Shepherd, Hardin County Extension agent

The USDA’s new animal disease traceability program went into effect Monday. Having a traceability system in place should allow the United States to track animal disease more quickly and efficiently, thereby minimizing not only the spread of disease but also the impacts an outbreak may have.

What this new regulation means is basically, cattle moving from one state to another need to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or certain other documentation such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates. There is one exemption for all cattle moving interstate directly to a custom slaughter facility.

Federally accredited veterinarians will be most affected as they will have to be knowledgeable of and comply with the new regulations or face penalties at the federal level.

Cattle moving interstate would be exempt from the official identification requirement when:

  • Beef cattle younger than 18 months unless they are moved interstate for shows, exhibitions, rodeos or recreational events.
  • Moved as a commuter herd going directly between two premises without change of ownership with a copy of the commuter herd agreement.
  • Cattle moved directly from a location in one state through another state to a second location in the original state.
  • Cattle are moved directly to an “approved tagging site” if they are officially identified before commingling with cattle and bison from other premises.
  • Back tags may be used as an alternative to official eartags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter but the animals must be slaughtered within three days of their movement to a slaughter plant.

The Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection is intended to provide a standardized, official document issued by a federal, state, tribal or accredited veterinarian at the location from which the animals are shipped. The person directly responsible for animals leaving a premise is responsible for securing a certificate or other interstate movement document and making sure it accompanies the cattle. But there are some exemptions to this rule as well.

In summary, a good rule of thumb to remember is adult breeding cattle, all dairy cattle and animals used for recreation or exhibition that are moved interstate warrant inspection which must be documented along with their official individual identification. These animals are at a higher risk for exposure and transmission of disease because of their contact with other livestock and their longevity. Younger beef animals, steers and spayed heifers and animals moving directly to slaughter have less stringent regulations because they generally will have short life spans.

Work with your federally accredited veterinarian if you will be moving any cattle interstate as he or she will know what is needed for legal transportation. This contact must be made in a timely manner in order to complete all testing and paperwork required by the state of destination before the animals are scheduled to move.

For more specific details about the regulation and how it will affect you as a livestock producer, go to www.aphis. usda.gov/traceability.

Doug Shepherd is a Hardin County Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources.