USDA announced four overarching goals for advancing animal disease traceability last week. Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said USDA has a responsibility to producers to implement a modern system that tracks livestock from birth to harvest using affordable technology that allows quick traceback of sick and exposed animals.
The four USDA goals are advancing the electronic sharing of data among federal and state animal health officials, veterinarians and industry, including sharing basic animal disease traceability data with the federal animal health events repository; using electronic identification tags to make data transmission more efficient; enhancing the ability to track animals from birth to harvest through a system that allows data points to be connected; and elevating the discussion toward a system through which animal health certificates are electronically transmitted from private veterinarians to state animal health officials.
These goals complement traceability infrastructure already developed by certain sectors of the livestock industry. USDA will begin implementing the traceability goals starting in fiscal year 2019.
To assist with the transition to electronic ID, USDA is replacing the free metal tag program with cost-share for electronic tags. USDA will not dictate the use of specific tag technology, giving producers the ability to decide what works best for their individual operations.
Ibach said by states and the industry sharing key elements from animal movement databases with the animal health events repository, it avoids housing the information at USDA and maintains stakeholder privacy.
USDA’s goals align with KLA policy calling for a program that minimizes costs to producers, optimizes the role of the private sector in administration and protects the confidentiality of individual animal owner records. The goals also line up with structure governing the CattleTrace program supported by KLA and currently being pilot tested in Kansas.