The Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule went into effect on March 11, 2013. However, after a 2-year grace period, the final component of the rule went into effect this month. Many producers have been asking questions recently to ensure they are complying with the rule. In some cases, there has been a misconception that the rule prohibits producers from traveling to a market across state lines to sell cattle. This is not true. In fact, in most cases, when selling at market producers do not need to do anything different because they have the auction market owners can help ensure the rules are followed.  

It is important to note that state rules still apply and are not consistent across the United States. Any questions about shipping to another state can be answered by the State Veterinarian's office in the receiving state. 

THE 2015 PHASE IN
As of March 11, 2015, ear tags applied to cattle on or after this date must have an animal identification number beginning with the 840 or other prefix representing a U.S. territory in order to be recognized as official identification. The tag must also bear an official ear tag shield.

This does not change what animals require official identification or when official identification is required. Rather, USDA simply allowed a two-year phase in period to ensure ear tags being used as official identification would meet the standards listed above.

THE ADT RULE
The ADT rule only applies to cattle moving from one state to another and not those staying in state. For cattle, the following animals must be identified with official ID if traveling in interstate commerce:

  • All sexually intact cattle and bison over 18 months of age,
  • All female dairy cattle of any age,
  • All dairy males (intact or castrated) born after March 11, 2013, and
  • Cattle and bison of any age used for rodeo, shows, exhibition, and recreational events. 

Cattle requiring official identification must have an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI), commonly called a health certificate, or alternate documentation agreed on by the state to move across state lines. 

Shipping to Market or Slaughter
There is some flexibility built into the rule. Cattle requiring official ID may move across state lines directly to an approved livestock facility, including many livestock markets, without a health certificate if moved on an owner-shipper statement. Information required to be included on an owner-shipper statement, such as the location from which the animals are moved interstate and the destination of the animals, is spelled out in the ADT rule. In some cases, and existing document such as a tag in slip at livestock markets have been used as an owner-shipper statements.

Additionally, cattle can move to an approved tagging site, including many livestock markets, prior to being identified as they will be identified at the approved tagging site.

In another exception, cattle moved direct-to-slaughter can move with approved backtags instead of official identification, even if moving between states.

State Veterinarian Decisions
State Veterinarians also have the ability to make some key decisions under the rule. While official eartags always qualify as official identification, State Veterinarians may accept the use of brands or tattoos accompanied by breed registration documents as official identification when agreed to by both the shipping and receiving states. State Veterinarians may also accept movement documentation other than an ICVI, as long as both the shipping and receiving state agree on the alternative document.

OTHER RULES STILL APPLY
The ADT requirements are in addition to state requirements for livestock identification, documentation, and disease testing for cattle movement in their states. Veterinarians shipping to a state where they are unsure of import requirements should contact the State Veterinarian’s office in the receiving state for specific requirements. 

ENFORCEMENT
For the first year under ADT, USDA focused its efforts on education about the rule. On March 4, 2014 USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) administrator Kevin Shea sent out a bulletin about the next phase ADT implementation. While USDA will continue to work with people not in compliance to educate them about the requirements, USDA will also pursue penalties in situations where an individual repeatedly fails to comply with the regulatory requirements. USDA stated its priorities are:

1. Official Identification of Cattle
2. Proper Administration of Interstate Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI)
3. Collection of ID at Slaughter