USDA Outlines Next Steps for Advancing Animal Disease Traceability

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released its four goals for advancing the Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program. The goals were announced by Greg Ibach, USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, in Kansas City at the National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA) Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability.

USDA’s four overarching goals for increasing traceability are:
•    Advance the electronic sharing of data among federal  and state animal health officials, veterinarians and industry; including sharing basic animal disease traceability data with the federal animal health events repository (AHER).
•    Implement the use of electronic ID tags for animals requiring individual identification (adult beef animals 18 months of age or older) in order to make the transmission of data more efficient;
•    Enhance the ability to track animals from birth to slaughter through a system that allows tracking data points to be connected; and
•    Elevate the discussion with States and industry to work toward a system where animal health certificates are electronically transmitted from private veterinarians to state animal health officials.

LMA President, Tom Frey, and LMA staff were at the NIAA Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability representing the marketing industry in these discussions.

At the forum, LMA asked how the third goal of “birth to slaughter” tracking relates to the current law, which doesn’t require identification until adult (18 months or older) beef animals cross state lines. Undersecretary Ibach and USDA Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jack Shere said that the birth data point could initially be provided voluntarily. However, they also said they’ve discussed rulemaking to require earlier identification of cattle that will become part of the breeding herd, but not feeder cattle.

USDA also went to great lengths to specify that they would not select what electronic identification technology (e.g. low frequency vs. high frequency) would be used. They are asking for industry to give them a technology recommendation, and are open to more than one specification of technology being used.

As these conversations continue, LMA will be seeking member feedback on this announcement and traceability as a whole. LMA is also represented on the Cattle Traceability Working Group (CTWG), a group of cattle industry members which was created following the fall 2017 Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability to discuss industry-led direction on the future of the ADT program.