USDA sets forth new requirements for cattle tagging

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The USDA is requiring some cattle farmers to switch over to a new tagging system.

This new process will help producers track where cattle have been and could limit food illnesses.

“There’s been a big demand from the consumer side of traceability,” explained David Cope with the Southwest Research Center.

The USDA issued new requirements for tagging cattle nationwide. By 2023, cattle need to be equipped with radio frequency ID tags instead of metal ones.

“RFID Tags to be the official E-ID identification system for the USDA, and so any animals that are are in tact, sexually intact animals that are over I believe 18 months of age, will be required to do this,” Cope added.

Feeder cattle and cows going directly to slaughter don’t have to comply with the rule.
The USDA put this program into place to keep the food supply safe and limit the chance of disease or illness with cattle that travel.

“For instance in an auction market, where it came into contact with those animals and maybe perhaps back to the point of origin, so they can then go back in and look at individual animals throughout that process, that this animal may have come in contact with and do that a lot sooner than we could otherwise,” said Cope.

The USDA is giving a timeline for producers to adapt to the changes.

“By the end of 2021, the official metal tags cannot be used for official USDA ID and so then by January 1st of 2023, these rules will be implemented, so that producers will be required to use these radio frequency ID tags to identify the animals.”

The USDA has not specified yet if high or low frequency tags need to be used. The RFID tags will be tamper proof. If the hard plastic piece is cut, the tracking system will not work.

This safety measure should keep tags from being switched from one animal to another.

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