The San Angelo Standard Times reports the animal identification program presented by the USDA has cattle ranchers more concerned with the threat of cattle rustlers and the loss of a history and tradition built-in to each cattle brand.

The plan from the USDA would identify each cattle with an ear tag, allowing traceability from the ranch to the slaughterhouse. Cattle producers are concerned the ID system would deter federal support of cattle branding, a practice that makes identifying ownership of lost or stolen cattle more efficient.

Some livestock groups have strongly opposed the ear tag, especially if it were to replace the cattle brand. The brands allow market inspectors and investigators to quickly identify cattle and catch cattle thefts attempting to sell someone else’s animals at auction.

Ranchers agree the branding process is the easiest and most efficient way to prove ownership and keep track of a cattle herd. A cattle brand is more difficult for a cattle thief to cover or remove than clipping and replacing an ear tag or removing an electronic pin.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association disagreed with the previous mandatory National Animal Identification System (NAIS), but decided at a June 2010 meeting to support the new Animal Disease Traceability framework if it met points agreeable to cattle producers. Some of the points include mimizing additional costs to the beef and dairy industry and protecting cattle producers from liability after the animals have left their control.

TSCRA also said it does not want the new animal ID system to replace or impede existing TSCRA brand inspection activities.

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Source: San Angelo Standard Times