USDA is beginning the process of moving from metal identification tags to electronic tags as part of the national traceability system. The transition is projected to take four years. Starting January 1, 2023, only official radio frequency identification (RFID) tags will be accepted for cattle and bison moving interstate. This includes breeding cattle 18 months and older, rodeo and show cattle, all female dairy cattle and all male dairy cattle born after March 11, 2013.
The implementation timeline begins December 31, 2019, when USDA will discontinue providing free metal tags. Approved vendors still will be permitted to produce and sell official metal tags for one additional year if approved by specific state animal health officials. Vendor production of metal tags no longer will be authorized as of January 1, 2021, with veterinarians and producers required to start using RFID tags. Two years later, on January 1, 2023, RFID tags will be required for the specified classes of cattle moving interstate. Animals with metal ear tags will have to be retagged with RFID tags for interstate movement.
Feeder cattle and animals moving directly to slaughter currently are not subject to individual identification requirements.