After the USDA released its proposed rule for animal-disease traceability Tuesday, several livestock and agricultural groups issued statements, some in support and others opposed to the program.
NCBA was relatively non-committal. The group’s chief veterinarian Elizabeth said “Cattlemen’s top priority is raising healthy cattle. As such, NCBA is supportive of an ADT program for cattle health purposes. That is why NCBA has been an industry leader working diligently with other cattle groups and USDA’s APHIS to ensure cattlemen’s concerns are addressed in a new ADT program. “NCBA commends APHIS for its recent efforts to listen to concerns of America’s cattlemen in developing this traceability program. NCBA encourages the agency to continue working with industry leaders on this and all animal health issues. We will carefully analyze and comment on APHIS’s proposed ADT rule. NCBA will continue to actively work with like-minded industry groups, state animal health officials and APHIS throughout the entire rulemaking process to ensure the best interests of our members.”
R-CALF USA, on the other hand, expressed opposition to the plan, issuing a release titled “USDA spurns U.S. cattle industry: Issues overreaching, intrusive mandatory animal identification rule.”
R-CALF specifically opposes the plan’s exclusion of brands as an official identification method for cattle moving through interstate commerce, and USDA’s intent to eventually require traceability for feeder cattle as well as breeding cattle. “In direct defiance of fundamental recommendations to preserve branding as a means of official animal identification,” the release reads, “and to not include cattle less than 18 months of age in any national animal identification system made by R-CALF USA and several other U.S. livestock groups, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today released an early version of its proposed rule to implement a national animal identification system titled “Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate.
The group also opposes the 90-day comment period, saying Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health recommended at least a 120-day public comment period for the proposed rule. R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard says the 90-day comment period will run at a time when tens of thousands of livestock producers are battling perhaps the nation’s most widespread and devastating drought and coincides with the cattle industry’s busy calf-weaning and calf-shipping season.