Beef cattle

The USDA is putting on hold its plan to require RFID tags on cattle that is moved between states.

USDA has decided not to implement its requirement for radio frequency ear tags for cattle and bison over 18 months of age that are shipped across state lines.

In April, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service posted a fact sheet stating RFID ear tags were critical for modernizing animal disease traceability and would be required beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

Last week, the agency stated it would reconsider whether or when to put the new requirements in place.

The decision is the result of feedback from the livestock industry and two recent executive orders from President Trump highlighting the need for transparency and communication before placing any new requirements on farmers and ranchers, the agency stated.

“While the need to advance a robust federal-state-industry animal disease traceability capability remains an important USDA-APHIS objective, we will take time to reconsider the path forward and then make a new proposal, with ample opportunity for all stakeholders to comment,” the agency stated.

USDA’s goals to enhance disease traceability have not changed and APHIS will continue to encourage the use of electronic identification for animals moving between states, the agency stated.

Current regulations permit brands and tattoos as acceptable identification for interstate movement if the receiving and shipping states agree, APHIS stated.

In early October, R-CALF USA and four of its member ranchers filed a lawsuit against USDA alleging the requirement violated current traceability regulations and was adopted without a formal rulemaking process.

Traceability regulations finalized in 2013 were designed for “maximum flexibility” and “low-cost technology” and allowed the use of metal ear tags, brands, tattoos, group/lot identification and back tags, the lawsuit states.

USDA’s plan to prohibit the use of anything other than RFID “substantially impacts the management and operation of every single cattle producer who currently uses those identification methods approved by the 2013 final plan,” the lawsuit states.

“When we filed our lawsuit, we said we were drawing a line in the sand telling USDA that our industry will no longer stand for the USDA’s blatant overreach,” Bill Bullard, R-CALF CEO, said in a statement.

“We are pleased that the president of the United States recognizes this as a serious violation of the rights and privileges of U.S. citizens, particularly American cattle ranchers,” he said.

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