SD Stockgrowers Voice Opposition to Mandatory Electronic ID Proposal
|SD Stockgrowers Association reaffirmed their opposition to a mandatory electronic identification requirement after USDA released their recommendations for an expanded program in Denver last week. The recommendations included a proposal requiring all breeding age cattle to carry an electronic identification tag within the next five years.
“We were opposed to this when it was NAIS, and we’re opposed to it now,” said SD Stockgrowers Animal ID Committee Chair Kenny Fox. “USDA continues to push this even when producers clearly said that we don’t want it and don’t need it.”
“USDA has been pushing this crazy mandate for years, but they still can’t tell us what it will cost, how they are going to keep the data safe, or deal with liability that’s going to fall on producers and sale barns. We don’t need this kind of program when our current system is working to keep our herds healthy.”
Current USDA Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) requires individual identification of any cattle over the age of 18 months traveling across state lines. That is being accomplished with metal NUES tags, brand inspection, health certificates and voluntary use of electronic ID for some producers. Compliance with those standards varies across the country.
USDA’s proposed electronic mandate would apply to the same category of cattle over the age of 18 months but mandate that no other identification method, other than electronic, would be allowed for interstate movement or change of ownership. While electronic identification tied to a federal premise registration number has been available on a voluntary basis for years, USDA estimates that less than twenty-percent of all beef cattle in the U.S. are currently using voluntary electronic identification in their cattle herds. The majority of those producers are doing so for management practices, not disease traceability.
SD Stockgrowers Executive Director Silvia Christen attended the meetings in Denver where USDA revealed their recommendations. “We have serious questions about the cost to our livestock producers, veterinarians and the auction markets. The infrastructure systems needed to read and record tags and keep cattle moving is a huge project, and then there’s the question of the database and computer systems that would house all of that data. How does USDA propose we keep that safe, protect producer privacy and control liability issues? We’re asking USDA to take these concerns seriously and put the brakes on this proposal.”
Fox said, “Our members attended most of the listening sessions that USDA held this spring and from what we heard, producers were pretty clear that they don’t want this. USDA needs to listen to what we’re telling them and stop with this heavy handed mandate.”