USDA to begin implementing new animal disease traceability system

By Sarah Gonzalez

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WASHINGTON, March 5, 2014 - USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) Administrator Kevin Shea said the agency on March 11 will begin implementing and testing its new Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program.

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The system, designed to help officials trace back an animal in the event of a disease outbreak, was described in a final rule announced by USDA in December 2012. Under the rule, cattle, pigs and other specified livestock must be officially identified and accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation when moved between states.

“As we identify issues with identification of livestock moved interstate, we will begin identifying individuals that, for one reason or another, aren't meeting the program's requirements,” Shea said in a letter to stakeholders. Veterinary Services officials will contact first-time violators in writing to “help guide” them through the process for meeting the program requirements, including obtaining the necessary identification devices or movement documentation.

Shea also said APHIS will apply penalties in situations where someone repeatedly fails to comply with the program's requirements. Notifying first-time offenders to ensure they understand the regulation will be a part of standard practice in the ADT, Shea explained.

“In the very near future we will be able to trace livestock moved interstate back to the location where the animal was first officially identified,” Shea said. “This will be a huge accomplishment; over time, we will build upon it to more advanced levels of traceability.”

USDA first announced plans for a national animal identification system after the country found its first ever confirmed case of mad cow disease late in 2003.

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