S.D. Stockgrowers take part in Animal Disease Traceability review
South Dakota Stockgrowers Association Vice-President Gary Deering and Executive Director Silvia Christen attended a listening session on Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) programs in Denver on May 4. The meeting was one of a series being hosted across the country as U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is reviewing the program and considering expanding requirements for identification of livestock moving interstate.
“Disease traceability and a healthy livestock herd are obviously critical to the future of our industry,” said Deering. “But, we have a lot of concerns about the idea of expanding a mandatory ID program beyond what is being required right now.”
The current ADT program requires individual identification of all breeding age cattle that move interstate. Bangs tags, back tags, RFID tags or other forms of individual, permanent identification are all acceptable forms of ID under ADT. At the session in Denver, and at other meetings across the country, USDA reviewed the current program requirements and their assessment of its effectiveness. Attendees at the meeting provided comments and contributed to a discussion facilitated by USDA in the afternoon.
“There are just too many unanswered questions with expanding the program to include feeder calves or other classes of cattle right now,” said Deering. “Can USDA assure us that the data about each of our ranches is safe from hacking? Who is going to bear the cost of the tags and computers needed to read them? Is the technology ready to keep up with the speed of commerce in our salebarns? And, then there are concerns about the liability of doing something wrong or having it tracked back to the wrong person.”
Stockgrowers President Bill Kluck and SDSGA Animal ID Committee Chairman Kenny Fox plan to attend the May 24 meeting in Billings, MT. Additional meetings will be held in Omaha, NE on July 18 and Ft. Worth, TX on July 20. For more information about the meetings, go to https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/traceability.
Kluck said, “We know it’s a terrible time of year for USDA to expect people to drive to these meetings, so we’re asking everyone to submit comments to USDA about how you feel the ADT program is working and let them know if you’re interested in seeing it expanded to feeder cattle.”
“South Dakota Stockgrowers Association has always had concerns about a nationally mandated animal ID program and we’re still worried about the cost, liability and data security that comes with an electronic tagging requirement. I just don’t think our industry is ready for that, or that it keeps our herds any safer from a disease outbreak.”
To submit written comments, visit http://www.regulations.gov and search “APHIS-2017-0016”
–South Dakota Stockgrowers Association