The USDA announced Friday that the public comment period on the new animal identification rule that has been proposed has been extended.
"The comment period, prior to its extension was to close on Nov. 9, it will now close on Dec. 9," said Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spokesperson Abby Yigzaw. "The comment period was extended to give stakeholders more time to review the proposed rule and submit their comments."
According to Yigzaw, animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they’ve been, and when, is very important to making sure there can be a rapid response when animal disease events take place.
In spring and summer of 2010, USDA hosted eight public meetings to discuss the new framework for animal disease traceability. Yigzaw says the meetings provided a venue for APHIS to provide additional details about the new framework and to learn from industry representatives and producers how best to support the States and Tribes as they move forward to develop workable traceability systems.
"After carefully considering the feedback collected from these meetings, along with input from a State-Tribal-Federal working group, Tribal consultations, and discussions with producers and industry, we were ready to fulfill our commitment of implementing this program transparently by sharing our proposed rule for achieving animal disease traceability in America," Yigzaw said.
The proposed rule will be administered by States and Tribal Nations, only applies to livestock moved interstate, encourages the use of low-cost technologies, and will be implemented transparently.Yigzaw says under this proposed rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates.
"Tracing capabilities vary by species, thus, the proposed regulations focuses on those species, such as the cattle sector, where improved capabilities are most needed," Yigzaw said. "That sector’s varying use of official identification coupled with the significant movement of cattle interstate warrants regulations that enhance the current traceability infrastructure."
According to Yigzaw, the proposed regulations specify approved forms of official identification for each species, but would also allow livestock to be moved between the shipping and receiving States or Tribes with another form of identification, such as brands, as agreed upon by animal health officials in the two jurisdictions.
She says there will also be exemptions for producers who raise animals to feed themselves, their families, and their immediate neighbors. Interstate movements of those animals to a customer slaughter facility are exempt from the traceability regulation.