Will RFID tags be the official ID of American cattle?


Will RFID tags be the official ID of American cattle?

The USDA has received mixed feedback from cattle and dairy groups on their proposed mandatory radio frequency identification, or RFID tags, for cattle and bison crossing state lines.

The proposed rule would create a national identification program and interstate traceability system to protect against animal disease outbreaks using RFID tags.

The proposed rule would require all female dairy cows and males born after March 11, 2013 to have RFID tags when crossing state lines.  The National Milk Producers Federation says a national animal identification system can provide immediate access to relevant information in an animal disease or food safety crisis, while protecting farmers’ privacy.  NMPF joined several dairy groups and breed associations to form IDairy which supports mandatory id to help in disease traceability.

Cattle and bison transported across stateliness would be required to have the tags if they are traveling for shows, exhibitions, rodeos, or are sexually intact at least 18 months of age.

R-CALF USA is the only cattle association opposing the rule, saying it abruptly deprives producers legal rights that current Federal law grants to them and the flexibility to choose among lower-cost technologies.  The group is also opposed the premises mandate within the rule and is currently in a lawsuit with USDA challenging the agency’s previous proposal to require the RFID tags.

A veterinarian with the Michigan Department of Agriculture submitted comments saying RFID does have its limitations but has reduced tracing TB-exposed animals from months to just a few days.  The tags are required in Michigan and Dan Robb says it would need some sort of standardization so that equipment used to read the numbers could work universally.

Meanwhile, DairyTrace, Canada’s national dairy cattle traceability program went live this week and provides farmers with a mobile app and online database portal to simplify reporting.