USDA Proposes Future Animal Disease Traceability Enhancements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking to tighten existing rules on its Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program. ADT, initiated in 2013, enhances the USDA’s ability to trace animals back from slaughter and forward from premises where they are identified. The regulations also help trace animals’ interstate movements.

Gaps exist in the program, particularly when it comes to USDA’s ability to track cattle. The National Institute for Animal Agriculture outlined during its annual conference in Denver, a summary of program reviews and proposals regarding ADT.

USDA states that tagged animals in the database can be tracked within 24 hours of an issue, but gaps in the data creates issues to not only identify and eliminate any disease outbreaks quickly but also limits animal movements and trade during investigations. In order to move forward with foreign market trade, a more comprehensive program is necessary, says USDA officials.

“It’s extremely important we get prepared,” Jack Shere, USDA, said. “We’re already getting punched in the gut because we can’t get in some markets.”

Political pressure continues to mount for a mandatory traceability system. USDA says they remain focused on a voluntary, collaborative program. USDA’s approach is made up of prevention, preparedness and response; a national animal health lab network that gets local diagnostic capabilities closer to animal populations; and development of a vaccine bank with an initial focus on FMD. USDA seeks input from the livestock industry and state animal health departments to identify the best technology and systems to move forward.

USDA currently is conducting traceability pilot programs on cattle crossing the U.S. border from Canada and Mexico and plans a pilot program in Kansas.

Kansas Cattlemen’s Association supports identifying cattle through visual tags and brands and supports a voluntary producer initiative rather than a federal mandatory animal ID system.

“The nature of the pilot programs and proposals bring the industry closer to a mandatory system. The focus by USDA is heavily trade-centric, wrapped in the guise of an animal disease problem. A foot and mouth disease outbreak has been a grave term thrown about by USDA to justify a federal program, yet we are an FMD free herd. Further protections by APHIS and FSIS to prevent FMD from entering this country altogether is what needs attention. Due to the slow incubation of FMD, by the time a case of FMD is diagnosed in the USA, traceability will have done nothing to prevent disaster,” stated Tyler Dupy, KCA Executive Director.

The full report and all of the proposals can be accessed at www.kansascattlemen.com.

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