See a Q&A on the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Final Rule on EID tags for cattle.

In late April 2024, the USDA APHIS passed a final rule on electronic identification usage, or EID tags for cattle. EIDs will be required as “official identification” for certain cattle and bison to be moved across state lines. The purpose of the update final rule is to improve traceability, with a significant benefit being “the enhanced ability of the United States to limit impacts of animal disease outbreaks to certain regions, which is the key to maintaining our foreign markets” according to an APHIS press release. A USDA Q&A document answers many questions about the updated final rule. See an excerpt below.

EID Tags for Cattle Q&A

“Q: What is animal disease traceability?

A: Animal disease traceability (ADT), or knowing where diseased animals and where at-risk animals are, where they’ve been, and when they were at that location, is very important to ensuring a rapid response when animal disease events take place. ADT does not prevent disease; however, an efficient and accurate traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved and exposed in a disease investigation and reduces the time needed to respond. Reducing the number of animal owners impacted by an animal disease event reduces the economic strain on owners and affected communities.”

“Q. Why is APHIS implementing this new rule?

  1. …electronic identification (EID) and records for livestock movement are critical for safeguarding animal health…”

“Q. How much will EID tags cost producers?

  1. EID tags will be available at no cost to producers through their State Veterinarian’s Offices. EID tags can also be purchased directly from manufacturers and distributors at market rates.”

“Q. How do producers acquire no-cost EID tags?

  1. All of the no-cost EID tags are being distributed via the State Veterinarian’s Office in your state.”

“Q. What animals will be impacted by the new EID rule?

A: The current ADT rule covers all sexually intact cattle and bison 18 months of age or older (which excludes most feeder cattle), all dairy cattle of any age, and all cattle and bison of any age used for rodeo, exhibition, or recreational events. The current ADT rule only applies to the interstate movement of covered classes of cattle and bison. The new EID rule will apply to the same covered classes of cattle and bison moving interstate.

“Q. What types of identification are approved for use in cattle and bison under this rule?

A: Each of the following official identification devices and methods are approved for use under part 86:

  • An official identification ear tag, beginning 180 days after publication in the Federal Register will be required to be both visually and electronically readable.
  • Brands, registered with a recognized brand authority and accompanied by an official brand inspection certificate, when agreed to by the shipping and receiving state/Tribal animal health authorities.
  • Tattoos and other identification methods acceptable to a breed association for registration purposes, accompanied by the breed registration certificate, when agreed upon by the shipping and receiving state/Tribal animal health authorities.
  • Group/lot identification when a group or unit of animals is managed together as one group throughout the pre-harvest production chain.”

“Q. How do official EID eartags enhance traceability?

  1. Official eartags provide animal health officials with a specific starting point from which to trace diseased or potentially diseased (exposed) animals. The required tag distribution records associate the official identification number with the person that received the device. Without official identification, animal health officials’ ability to accurately trace an animal’s movements can take months or may never be achieved. Official eartags provide the opportunity to conduct a disease investigation from two points of reference rather than just one.”

See the full Q&A here to answer any further questions you have on EIT Tags for cattle.

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