Obtaining official identification devices for cattle

| How Florida is implementing the federal Cattle Identification Rule |

The rancher community is aware of a new Cattle Identification Rule promulgated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in March 2013. The Cattle ID Rule is intended to protect interstate cattle industry and mitigate the spread of disease between herds. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has introduced a draft rule to implement the federal standards. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]

The drafted Cattle ID Rule requires that adult cattle and bison moving within Florida must be identified with official, individual tags. The intent is to comply with the federal guidelines, in order to quickly identify diseased and exposed animals.

The rule improves the state’s ability to trace livestock in the event of a serious animal disease. These precautions help protect the cattle industry as a whole, and are vital for maintaining markets for Florida’s cattle, according to published rule commentary from the FDACS.

To help Florida ranchers comply with the new rule, the FDACS will assist cattle producers by providing tags at no cost, conducting workshops, publishing support information, and discussing planning steps for implementation. Though “Official Identification Devices” (tags) can be obtained at no cost from the USDA, ranchers are also free to shop for custom tags that may better meet their farm needs from approved tag manufacturers.

There are some exemptions to the draft rule. For one, cattle remaining under “common ownership” that are moved across ranch operations are exempt from the ID requirements. Also, cattle less than 18 months of age are exempt from tagging currently. According to the federal rule, steers and spayed heifers born prior to March 11, 2013 are also exempt.

Otherwise, the cattle are required to be tagged with official, individual identification. The owner, veterinarian, or employee of the owner can apply the tags. The location can be on premises or at an approved tagging site. Not all facilities in cattle operations – such as “for hire” pens and auction markets – will choose to be an official tagging site. The requirements to become an approved facility center depends mostly on adequate record keeping.

Those individual records and identification numbers are cataloged and stored by the USDA. The agency makes the data available to state animal health officials for animal disease traceability when needed for animal disease response or applicable investigation. The idea of traceability is to maintain a measureable process for particular animals. That requires a uniform coding system of ID numbers, specifically assigned, recorded, and maintained over time.

The traceability rule is expected to benefit the cattle community in various ways, despite the additional requirements for implementation. Accurate traceability will reduce the USDA and state investigations time and cost when suspected disease does occur. The ability to trace animals individually will also reduce the potential for widespread outbreaks. These improvements would minimize any negative impact to the broader markets and ensure that interstate markets remain welcoming to Florida cattle.

Other states are enacting similar rules to help keep their markets viable. According to the FDACS, there are about 10 other states with rules in development. Both Texas and Alabama have recently implemented their own Cattle Identification Rule.

More information is available on the FDACS and USDA websites:




story by MICHAEL JAMES SELF, Ed.D. [/emember_protected]

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