Cattlemen submit comments on animal disease traceability rule

Dec 16, 2011
by WLJ

The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) recently submitted comments on the animal disease traceability rule proposed by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). As proposed, the “Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate” rule would require cattle crossing state lines to be officially identified and accompanied by appropriate documentation, such as a certificate of veterinary inspection or shipper’s agreement.

SDCA policy advocates mandatory identification of breeding cattle to help mitigate the economic impact of a potential outbreak of a highly contagious cattle disease. However, the organization’s comments specifically request the rule be revised to exempt feeder cattle, defined in the rule as cattle less than 18 months of age. Instead, SDCA urges APHIS to address feeder cattle in a separate rule after successful implementation of traceability for older cattle. If an outright exemption is not considered, SDCA pro posed

APHIS increase the age limit from 18 months to 24 months of age. SDCA also urged APHIS to incorporate existing individual identification tools into the traceability program.

SDCA immediate past President Bill Slovek stated in his comments, “Our industry currently utilizes individual animal identification programs for age and source verification pro grams, grid marketing programs, and other methods where individual animals are tracked through the production chain so as to enhance genetic improvement decision-making.

These existing programs should be acceptable to meet the requirements for any new federal animal disease traceability program.”

Slovek, a cow/calf pro ducer from Philip, noted, “The goal of any identification program should be to enable the cattle industry and state and federal animal health officials to respond rapidly and effectively to animal health emergencies. SDCA commends APHIS for listening to concerns of beef producers while developing this traceability program.” — WLJ