The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently released a proposed rule regarding official animal identification (ID) numbering systems.

This proposed rule, published in the Federal Register Jan. 13, 2009, (Volume 74, Number 8, pp. 1624-1643), is titled USDA APHIS “Official Animal Identification Numbering Systems” and will directly affect cattlemen, according to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

The rule is intended to create uniformity of official numbering systems and ear tags used in official animal disease programs and the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), according to APHIS.

Comments are due on the proposed rule by March 16. The proposed rule can be found at

NCBA reports APHIS is particularly requesting information regarding economic and other implications to small entities and producers.

According to an NCBA summary of the proposed rule, it will not technically require the use of the animal ID number (AIN); however, the proposed rule would require that when AINs are used, only those numbers beginning with the 840 prefix will be recognized as official. This would apply to animals one year or more after the date of finalization of the proposed rule.

APHIS also states that it will not be necessary to retag animals that have been officially identified prior to the finalization of the rule and its “transition period.”

For more information on USDA and the NAIS rules, head to the USDA website.