Livestock News

APHIS takes step back on RFID mandate

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced yesterday that they will no longer implement the July 2020 Federal Register Notice that would have required most cattle to bear a radio frequency identification tag.

According to the news release, “After reviewing 944 public comments on a July 2020 notice that proposed to approve Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) as the official eartag for use in interstate movement of cattle, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has decided to use the rulemaking process for future action related to this proposal. This means that the original notice will not be finalized, and that all current APHIS-approved methods of identification may be used as official identification until further notice.

“APHIS continues to believe that RFID tags will provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases and will therefore continue to encourage the use of RFID tags while rulemaking is pending.”

An official eartag is defined as an identification tag approved by APHIS that bears an official identification number for individual animals. Under the current regulations, eartags may be used as official identification, and both visual-only metal and plastic tags, as well as RFID tags are current options. The animal disease traceability (ADT) regulations for cattle apply only to sexually intact beef animals over 18 months of age moving in interstate commerce, cattle used for exhibition, rodeo and recreational events, and all dairy cattle. The regulations permit brands and tattoos as acceptable identification if the shipping and receiving States agree and group/lot identification when a group/lot identification number (GIN) may be used.

“Today’s announcement is good news for U.S. cattle producers as it means the impending threat of a costly RFID mandate is now removed, but we must not stop defending the rights of producers because it’s clear the agency fully intends to continue efforts to force this costly mandate upon America’s independent cattle producers,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

APHIS will continue to share news and information about efforts related to ADT and the use of RFID tags, and there will be an opportunity for public comment during the rulemaking process.

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