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Is Mandatory EID going to impact cattle industry?

Many sale barns are speaking out against mandatory EID in the cattle industry. Cattlemaster Doug Ferguson tells us more.

Doug Ferguson

February 2, 2024

6 Min Read

Last week and continuing into this week I could not help but notice that many sale barns were speaking out against the Mandatory EID push, and the groups that are in support of it.  I started sending them emails, or text messages thanking them for doing that. Then there were too many for me to keep up thanking them all, so I want to offer a sincere heartfelt thank you to all the sale barns that have done so.

Nebraska’s director of department of agriculture even warned us that we must oppose this because property tax will likely become attached to it.  Nebraska is one of the highest taxed states in the country. We are the 8th highest in property tax and ranked 11th in state income tax.  When an industry group that claims to represent the state’s largest industry, agriculture, comes out in support of this mandate we should really pause and wonder why. Why are they in support of adding another expense to our bottom line when they have done nothing to relieve the burden of other expenses?

Over value vs. under value

Years ago, these groups opposed the idea of this mandate out of fear of who would control the database and who’ll have access to it.  Clearly, they got it figured out now and are satisfied with the answer to that.  We all know to follow the money so it would seem simple enough that there would be a revenue stream coming to them. 

Tag manufacturers will certainly support these groups by purchasing booth space at their conventions. One sale barn even mentioned that these tags are required in hogs and that the tags are not being manufactured fast enough. Could you imagine watching your cattle that are overvalued at the moment become undervalued because you could not market them in time due to waiting on tags?  The readers are not very good, and some believe the cattle will have to go through the chute to have tags read. The extra labor and equipment will be expensive to sale barns, and they will pass that cost right on to their customers.  This will lead to shrink. Weight lost usually is dollars out of the producer’s pocket.  Then there is also the risk of injury. 

Buyers will soon notice cattle will become harder to start because of the added stress which could lead to increased illness.  When and if this becomes a trend, you will see the price of cattle drop.  The groups that support mandatory EID are clueless as to how commerce actually works in this industry, or about stockmanship, animal health, or labor issues.

Red flags?

If animals are tracked since birth the database will let whoever has access to it know if a feedyard is over their capacity. It could also send up a red flag. A bunch of cattle went into this place, but they didn’t come back out. If a producer gets that pen from hell and death loss gets a bit high, they will know it.  This may warrant an investigation into if those animals are being disposed of properly. It will probably mean that cattle that are butchered for personal consumption will need to be tracked and then since it’s in the database those frozen wrapped packages will be taxed.  And they won’t be taxed at cost of production, they will be taxed at retail price as personal income.  It may cost $6.50 a pound going into the freezer but if that Tomahawk Steak retails for $44/pound, that retail price is what you’ll get taxed at.

Private treaty

Cattle are sold private treaty all the time. If it is in a brand inspection area the brand inspector collects the checkoff dollars. Outside the brand inspection area these dollars are rarely turned in. With the EID program in place, they will certainly need to be turned in and if not, I am certain there will be fines. Personally, I feel this is the real reason why some of these groups are in support of the mandate.  With cattle numbers being down there are less checkoff dollars being collected, and this is a way to ensure those dollars keep flowing to organizations whose budget is dependent upon them. 

R-CALF wrote a good piece ( Weekly Address: Say “No” Now to Stop Mandatory EID - R-CALF USA ) on how they think this will impact the future of our industry  (this is not an endorsement for R-CALF).  If we are paying attention to what is happening around the globe, we are seeing farmers in other countries being forced out of business. People from other countries have attended my marketing schools and they have all told me we do not want to allow this EID mandate to happen.

Disease traceability

They tell us this is for disease traceability.  One sale barn pointed out that the back tag system has worked. When we found the cow that was BSE positive, she was quickly traced to her point of origin. It is the tests that take time.

Our kids are indoctrinated with this in the showring. They are told it will prevent cheating. Cheaters still cheat, they find a way because that is what cheaters do. They may even tell our kids it will prevent cheating in the real world because it will prevent theft. Those people who have come to visit me from other countries are alarmed that I will buy short eared cattle. What the modern-day rustlers do in countries with a tag system in place is to just slice off part of the ear.  This is how they will finally get us to accept it.  It is already programmed into the minds of our children that this is normal and okay and in their best interest.  This is why my daughter doesn’t show cattle in 4-H. 


25 years ago, when I was staring out and struggling, all I wanted was an opportunity.  I had to keep showing up to prove that I had the resolve to survive. Then opportunities began to come.  Most people give up too soon. This is why I am so grateful for the sale barns that spoke out the last two weeks. They were not only acting as agents informing us, but they were also speaking out for my daughter and your kids or grandkids. They are trying to defend their future so they may have the same opportunity. The reason a young person can get into this industry and start from scratch and build wealth is because this industry is the closest thing to laissez-fair free market capitalism on the planet.  A mandate and the financial burden that comes with it strips that away.

I tried my best to only relate how this will impact us financially since this is supposed to be a marketing blog. If anything, I wrote here resonates with you I hope you find the courage to speak out and support those who support you.

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