USDA issues Final Rule on animal disease traceability

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The USDA last week released a final rule establishing general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate.

"With the final rule announced today, the United States now has a flexible, effective animal disease traceability system for livestock moving interstate, without undue burdens for ranchers and U.S. livestock businesses," according to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The final rule meets the diverse needs of the countryside where states and tribes can develop systems for tracking animals that work best for them and their producers, while addressing any gaps in our overall disease response efforts.

“The new rule establishes a system of tools and safeguards that will help us target when and where animal diseases occur, and help us respond quickly," Vilsack said.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) praised the USDA for the action. “An effective traceability system is critical to our nation’s animal health infrastructure and is one of the components the World Organization for Animal Health considers essential for an effective veterinary services program,” said NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C. “The goal of a traceability system is trace-back of an animal to its farm of origin within 48 hours of the discovery of a disease.”

According to NPPC, the new rule allows a disease to be brought under control and eradicated more quickly, saving animals – and taxpayer dollars – and keeping foreign markets open to exports.

Many major livestock-producing countries, including Canada, the European Union and Japan, have implemented, or are implementing, animal traceability systems. And most meat-importing countries require such a systems as a condition for importing meat, NPPC pointed out.

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.

After considering the public comments received, USDA’s final rule contains several differences from the proposed rule issued in August 2011. These include:

  • Accepting the use of brands, tattoos and brand registration as official identification when accepted by the shipping and receiving States or Tribes
  • Permanently maintaining the use of backtags as an alternative to official eartags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter
  • Accepting movement documentation other than an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI) for all ages and classes of cattle when accepted by the shipping and receiving States or Tribes
  • Clarifying that all livestock moved interstate to a custom slaughter facility are exempt from the regulations
  • Exempting chicks moved interstate from a hatchery from the official identification requirements

Beef cattle under 18 months of age, unless they are moved interstate for shows, exhibitions, rodeos, or recreational events, are exempt from the official identification requirement in this rule. These specific traceability requirements for this group will be addressed in separate rulemaking, allowing APHIS to work closely with industry to ensure the effective implementation of the identification requirements.

The notice is expected to be published in the Dec. 28 Federal Register.

For more information about the final rule, click here



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