The Joint Strategy Forum on Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) meeting sponsored by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the United States Animal Health Association was billed as a final opportunity to provide input to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) before it writes the proposed rules for the new ADT framework.
According to USDA, the proposed rule would require animals moved interstate to be officially identified (individually or by group/lot) and accompanied by an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection unless otherwise exempt. Any producer data would be controlled by individual state or tribal programs, and the plan would be performance- and outcome-based using traceability performance measures. The agency plans to roll out the new rules next April, which will be followed by a 60- to 90-day comment period. The final rule would take effect about a year after the comment period closes.
Instead of focusing on the areas of least agreement - like voluntary vs. mandatory programs - meeting participants tried a new approach. They spent most of their time on areas that could be agreed upon, like the idea that we really do need an animal disease traceability system in this country.
Attendees agreed that 9-character silver, or brite, tags offer a baseline for official animal identification; advanced technology, like electronic ID, may be used when preferred. There was consensus that the ADT needs to reassess how and when it adds feeder cattle to the program. A number of organizations stepped up and offered educational support to help bring their members on board with the plan.
There is still much work to do, but the fact that the group did find major points of agreement, and that the general attitude was collaborative, not combative, is significant. There was helpful dialog with USDA officials throughout the sessions, offering hope that the concerns and suggestions were heard and will be incorporated into the final plan.
Representatives of the American Sheep Industry Association participated in the meeting and noted in the framework document presented by USDA that it was stated "the traceability regulation would not have any effect on sheep and goats…the official identification and documentation requirements in 9 CFR Part 79…will be maintained."
Reprinted in part from cattlenetwork.com