USDA To Require Electronic Ear Tags For Most Cattle, Bison During Transport

The USDA said the traceability system should help stop diseases from spreading.


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April 30, 2024 - USDA

As bird flu reached New Mexico dairy cows, the feds are set to launch new safety rules for transporting some livestock. However, some local ranchers are now concerned about how much it might impact them.

“This rapid of a change is going to be hard for people to comply with,” said New Mexico Cattle Growers Association President Bronson Corn.

Ranchers and cattle farmers across New Mexico are bracing for a big change. Under a new rule, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is soon expected to require high-frequency or low-frequency electronic tags on most cattle and bison being transported on any American highway. Some ranchers think it could help make a safer food supply.

“The program has been developed with input from producers, and some of our largest concerns including affordability, protection of personal and private information, it’s been addressed and probably won’t be impacted,” said New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau President Larry Reagan.

The USDA said the traceability system should help stop diseases from spreading.

“One of the most significant benefits of the rule for farmers and ranchers will be the enhanced ability of the United States to limit impacts of animal disease outbreaks to certain regions, which is the key to maintaining our foreign markets,” the USDA said in press release.

“For us, to market our cattle overseas or export our beef, I think it’s necessary that we put this in place, so that it is traceable,” said Reagan.

With the rule, most cattle and bison 18 months and older will need to have a electronic ear tag. Some ranchers are concerned.

“It does have a purpose. But making it a mandate, that might have taken it a little bit far,” added Corn.

While the USDA said it will provide tags for free, some ranchers worry about a short supply and costly implementation.

“The framework, the readers, the software, all of that costs a lot of money to implement. If we are going to be mandated to put these tags in all of these cattle, we shouldn’t be mandated to purchase those tags,” said Corn.

The USDA is expected to publish final rules in the coming weeks which would be effective 180 days after that. Corn is worried about the quick turnaround. “That’s a pretty tight time frame.”

Reagan said it should be enough time. “We are pleased to see the 6-month time frame put in place for implementation and rule, so that everybody can learn what they need to do.”

Cattle and bison used in rodeo or recreation events will also need to be tagged with the new rules.


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