“Tracking” Animal Disease Traceability

April, 2013
Bridget Carlisle, Polk Livestock Extension Agent, UF/IFAS

Many recall the USDA’s National Animal Identification System (NAIS) that was to be implemented through the states.  NAIS was to be a streamlined information system to help producers and animal health officials respond quickly and effectively to animal disease events in the U.S.  The program was meant to help us protect U.S. livestock and poultry from disease spread, maintain consumer confidence in our food supply, and retain access to domestic and foreign markets.  The program involved registering premises, identifying individual or groups of animals, and recording this data in an Animal Tracking Database (ATD).  Participation in NAIS was voluntary and not mandatory. 

NAIS had major holes in its feasibility and faced great opposition from many groups.  In 2009, funding for the program was dropped, and NAIS was put to bed.  Then, in early 2010, NAIS was wakened with a new name and an overhaul, and thus Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) was born.  According to the USDA, Animal Disease Traceability is a new and different approach intended to improve the ability to trace livestock and poultry when there is a disease event.  The final rule for ADT was published in the Federal Register in January, 2013.

The final ADT rule requires that all (with some exceptions) livestock  (cattle and bison, horses and other equine species, poultry, sheep and goats, swine, and captive cervids) that are moved interstate must be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation (as agreed to by the states and tribes).  The states are charged with implementing the final rule; therefore, states and tribal officials will develop their own traceability systems to meet the federal rules.   The federal rule provides for a uniform set of minimum national standards for States and Tribes to follow, States and Tribes may adopt requirements not included in the Federal rule.  The complete final rule can be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2012/12/pdf/traceability_final_rule.pdf.
In Florida, the Division of Animal Industry is in the process of such preliminary rule development, Chapter 5C-31, Cattle Identification.  The preliminary text is available at http://www.freshfromflorida.com/ai/pdf/5c-31_PreliminaryRuleText.pdf.  The Department will schedule and announce several rulemaking workshops to solicit public comments regarding the proposed rule text.  The preliminary rule requires that, unless specifically exempt, adult cattle and bison moving intrastate within Florida must have official individual identification.  The regulation specifies approved forms of official individual identification which will be accepted.  While only focused on adult cattle and bison, this preliminary rule extends the Federal rule beyond interstate to intrastate movement.

Livestock operators need to keep informed and participate in rulemaking workshops as these rules will surely have an impact on their operations.  By being an active participant in the rule making process and having a voice of reason, producers and rule makers, together, can help effectively prevent and control animal disease within the working context of American animal agriculture.

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