The U.S. Department of Agriculture is issuing a new rule that it says will improve its ability to trace livestock and poultry when there is a disease event.
The agency says the rule addresses “legitimate concerns” about its discontinued National Animal Identification System (NAIS) program that was launched in 2004 and received pushback from farmers about its cost, flexibility and ability to protect private information.
USDA says the new approach would:
• Achieve basic, effective animal disease traceability and response to animal disease outbreaks without overburdening producers;
• ONLY apply to animals moving interstate;
• Be owned, led and administered by the states and tribal nations with federal support focused entirely on animal disease traceability;
• Allow for maximum flexibility for states, tribal nations and producers to work together to find identification solutions that meet their local needs;
• Encourage the use of low-cost technology; and
• Ensure that animal disease traceability data are owned and maintained at the discretion of the states and tribal nations.
According to a USDA fact sheet, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection (ICVI) or other documentation such as an owner-shipper statement or a brand certificate. The proposed regulations specify approved forms of official identification for each species but would also allow livestock to be moved between the shipping and receiving states or tribes with another form of identification such as brands as agreed upon by animal health officials in the two jurisdictions.
An ICVI, often referred to as a health certificate, is an official document issued by a federal, state or accredited veterinarian at the location from which animals are shipped interstate. If the animal is not required to be officially identified, the ICVI would specify the exemption that applies.
Approved livestock facilities must keep for a minimum of five years any ICVIs, or alternate documentation used in lieu of an ICVI, for livestock that enter the facility on or after the effective date of the final rule stemming from this proposal.An approved livestock facility is defined as a stockyard, livestock market, buying station, concentration point or any other premises under state or federal veterinary inspection where livestock are assembled.
USDA will be taking public comments on the proposed rule until Nov. 9.
Farm Bureau has not taken a position on the proposal, but plans to submit comments to the agency.