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USDA seeking public input on RFID tags

USDA seeking public input on RFID tags

Farmers have until Oct. 5 to submit their comments

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking for public comments on a proposal from its Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Until Oct. 5, producers can weigh in on APHIS’s plan to only approve radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags as “the official eartag for use in interstate movement of cattle that are required to be identified by the traceability regulations.”

Implementing these rules would help animal health officials contain disease outbreaks early, the USDA said.

Producers currently can choose how they wish to identify their cattle, which includes backtags, brands and tattoos.

These new regulations would apply to cattle and bison that are sexually intact and 18 months of age or older, and all female dairy cattle and male dairy cows born after March 11, 2013.

Cattle and bison of any age used for rodeo or recreational events, shows or exhibitions, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and poultry would also fall under the regulations, the July 6 proposal says.

If the plan is accepted, it would begin on Jan. 1, 2023, at which time any animal with a metal tag would need to be retagged to move.

Feeder cattle or animals heading for processing may not be part of the requirements.

One cattle organization has expressed its objection to the proposal.

This plan would bring added costs to producers who are already struggling during the pandemic, said Kenny Fox, animal identification committee chair with R-Calf USA.

“The agency is completely out of touch with the needs of America’s cattle producers who are experiencing perhaps the worst economic cost-price squeeze in history, which has been greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in a July 6 statement.

This marks the USDA’s second attempt to enforce mandatory RFID tags in the cattle sector.

The ag department brought up a similar motion last year.

In October 2019, R-Calf USA filed a lawsuit against the USDA which blocked the mandatory use of RFID tags.

Farms.com has reached out to other industry groups for comment.

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