On February 5, 2010, USDA announced a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the United States. The Secretary of Agriculture and other USDA officials launched a widespread listening tour in 2010 to hear comments, concerns, and to discuss potential solutions to create a program producers can feel comfortable supporting.
USDA believes the traceability framework provides the basic tenets of an improved animal disease traceability capability. USDA continues to review and use comments and discussions collected during the listening tour to develop a flexible, coordinated approach for livestock moving interstate. The purpose of the draft proposed regulation for livestock moving interstate has always been to:
- Apply only to animals moved interstate;
- Be administered by the States and Tribal Nations to provide more flexibility;
- Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and
- Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.
It is also important to note how the proposed framework will affect the practice of branding for livestock moving interstate.
USDA supports the use of brands to identify cattle moving interstate. Further, USDA recognizes the value of brands and their prevalence in the western United States. The approach in the draft proposed regulation will provide flexibility for States and Tribes to use brands for compliance with the proposed requirements for interstate movement.
Under USDA’s traceability framework and the upcoming draft proposed regulation for livestock moving interstate, those States and Tribes who elect to use brands will be allowed to do so. The draft proposed regulation clearly states that cattle and bison moved between shipping and receiving States or Tribes may alternatively be identified with another form of identification, including brands, tattoos, and breed registry certificates as agreed upon by animal health officials in the shipping and receiving States or Tribes.
In the draft proposed rule, USDA will define official identification methods for each species. Establishing the official identification method in the draft proposed rule will provide clarity to livestock owners and ensure that no one State or Tribe can deny a method of official identification or require a specific method of official identification for entry of livestock into their jurisdiction. These official identification methods or devices will be accepted by all States and Tribes for the entry of livestock into their jurisdictions, in addition to those agreed upon by animal health officials in the shipping and receiving State or Tribes.