USDA Issues Final Rule for Animal Disease Traceability

The USDA Dec. 20 announced a final rule establishing general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate.

"With the final rule announced today, the United States now has a flexible, effective animal disease traceability system for livestock moving interstate, without undue burdens for ranchers and U.S. livestock businesses," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The final rule meets the diverse needs of the countryside where states and tribes can develop systems for tracking animals that work best for them and their producers, while addressing any gaps in our overall disease response efforts. Over the past several years, USDA has listened carefully to America's farmers and ranchers, working collaboratively to establish a system of tools and safeguards that will help us target when and where animal diseases occur, and help us respond quickly."

Under the final 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.

After considering the public comments received, the final rule has several differences from the proposed rule issued in August 2011.

A section specific to equine identification and movement is included in the final rule, which can be accessed at The rule notes that, "Horse owners who are meeting vaccination and Coggins-test requirements ... likely satisfy the requirements for official identification and documentation of equines under these regulations." Additional specific requirements can be found in the text of the rule.

The rule will become effective 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register, the agency notes in the rule text. The notice is expected to be published in the Dec. 28 Federal Register.

Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they've been, and when, is very important to ensure a rapid response when animal disease events take place. An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond, and decreases the cost to producers and the government.

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