The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced a 30-day extension of the comment period for the proposed rule on animal disease traceability. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Dec. 9.

Animal disease traceability is critical to ensure a rapid response in the case of an animal disease event.  “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,” according to an APHIS press release.

The National Pork Producers Council has been a strong advocate for animal traceability for several years. “An effective traceability program would allow U.S. pork to compete more effectively in the international market place with those countries that have already implemented traceability programs” said Doug Wolf, NPPC president. Approximately 95 percent of pork producer’s premises are already registered under the USDA livestock identification program, according to NPPC.

Rapid response to a disease event is increasingly important to the U.S. pork industry due to ever-increasing pork exports. “Any number of animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, could cause massive economic disorder in the U.S. pork industry,” says Bob Dykhuis, NPPC board member. “It is imperative that there be a system to quickly manage any animal disease outbreak in this country.”

The USDA and Pork Checkoff recently launched a new Swine ID plan that utilizes an official eartag for market-bound pigs. In accordance with the National Animal Identification System, the new "Just Think Pink" campaign will improve industry-supported disease surveillance programs and enhance the industry's ability to detect and contain diseases quickly.

The new, pink eartags clearly display the seven-digit Premises Identification Number (PIN) linking the pig back to the owner. Individually identifying each pig ensures better traceability, when necessary, and helps prevent and contain the spread of disease through harvest channels.
An effective traceability system is critical to the national animal health infrastructure and is required for certification by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), according to NPPC. The ability to quickly trace diseased and exposed animals during a foreign animal disease outbreak would save millions of animals, as well as reduce the risk to the industry.

Those wishing to submit comments can use either of the following methods:

  • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery:  Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-20091-0091, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD  20737-1238.