The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Thursday announced a final rule establishing general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate.
"With the final rule announced, the United States now has a flexible, effective animal disease traceability system for livestock moving interstate, without undue burdens for ranchers and U.S. livestock businesses," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The final rule meets the diverse needs of the countryside where states and tribes can develop systems for tracking animals that work best for them and their producers, while addressing any gaps in our overall disease response efforts. Over the past several years, USDA has listened carefully to America's farmers and ranchers, working collaboratively to establish a system of tools and safeguards that will help us target when and where animal diseases occur, and help us respond quickly."
Under the final rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates. It was clarified that all livestock moved interstate to a custom slaughter facility will be exempt from the regulations.
"The sheep industry is pleased that the identification system currently required as a part of the National Scrapie Eradication Program will be recognized as compliant with the new animal disease traceability regulations," said Jim Logan, DVM, American Sheep Industry Association Animal Health Committee chair.
"The sheep industry, along with state and federal animal health regulatory partners, has worked diligently for more than 10 years to make the scrapie identification program effective and we appreciate USDA's recognition of this achievement by accepting its compliance at a part of the final rule."
The final rule is expected to be published in the Dec. 28 Federal Register, with an effective date 60 days later.