Animal disease traceability became a fact of life for U.S. beef in March 2013, but for now, federal officials are focused on education rather than enforcing compliance.
A key feature of the Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule is the USDA has turned implementation and management over to individual states and tribes, meaning that within the rule’s guidelines states can choose their requirements for cattle coming in and can negotiate agreements with other states on types of documentation they will accept. That feature allows considerable flexibility for state animal- health officials to craft a system that works for their producers, but it also creates potential confusion or compliance challenges for producers, veterinarians and market personnel.
Last month’s Joint Strategy Forum on Animal Disease Traceability focused largely on harmonizing the compliance process across states and tribes, to facilitate market efficiency while achieving the program’s goals of traceability for timely and effective intervention in case of a disease event.
The forum, hosted by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) and the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA), brought together state veterinarians, USDA officials and industry representatives to discuss the current status of ADT and ongoing work to streamline the process.
The ADT rule requires identification for certain classes of cattle destined for interstate shipment. All sexually intact cattle 18 months of age or older fall under the rule, as do dairybreed cattle of any age or sex, and all cattle transported to shows, exhibits or rodeos. Beef calves and feeder cattle less than 18 months of age are not covered by the rule. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has stated its intention to address those classes of cattle in a separate, future rulemaking process.
Covered classes of cattle moving across state lines need official identification and documentation. The default or “gold-standard” documentation is the Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI). Some other documents such as brandinspection certificates can work in place of the ICVI if the shipping and receiving states have agreed upon the documents. Likewise, in addition to official ear tags, brands or breed-registry tattoos can meet program requirements if the shipping and receiving states have such an agreement.
Variation in state systems
To unravel some of the variability in the ways individual states are administering the ADT system, USDA, in cooperation with NIAA, USAHA and the Livestock Marketing Association, recently conducted a survey of state animal-health regulatory offices. Ohio State Veterinarian Tony Forshey summarized the results, based on responses from 41 of 50 states.