BEEF Daily

Do We Need Animal ID?


This week’s poll asks, “Does the latest BSE case underscore the need for individual animal ID in the U.S.?”

The U.S. confirmed its fourth case of BSE in April, this one in a central California dairy cow. While the announcement sent shockwaves through the industry, the media coverage was fairly balanced and factual. Government agencies, animal health experts and industry organizations effectively made the case that the surveillance system for BSE worked and that consumers were never endangered. The result is that any damage to foreign and domestic demand has been minimal thus far.

You can check out BEEF magazine’s coverage on the issue here.

Still, the California BSE case has has spurred a great deal of conversation about beef quality and traceability. Among that is a renewed call in some quarters for the U.S. to implement a system of individual animal identification and traceback.  

We’re curious about your thoughts on an individual animal identification system to improve our traceability within the U.S. cowherd and grow our beef export opportunities by better meeting the demands of our foreign customers.

Thus, our latest weekly online poll at asks, “Does the latest BSE case underscore the need for individual animal ID in the U.S.? Click here to cast your vote.

With more than 100 votes to date, 53% of you say, “No, the system worked.” Another 45% of you say, “Yes, we need this for traceability and marketing purposes.” The final 2% aren’t sure.

So, what are your thoughts on this issue? Do we need an individual animal identification system? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

And, don’t forget to send your best ground beef recipes and photos to me at by Saturday, May 12 to be eligible to win $125 boot gift certificate from Roper Apparel.

Check out contest details here.

Check out the reader-submitted recipes here.

Discuss this Blog Entry 14

Kent (not verified)
on May 9, 2012

Yes we do. BSE isn't the one I'm concerned about, its a communicable disease like FMD that is going to have devastating effects on our industry. Rather than isolating the problem to an area, the whole country will be quarantined.

Mark Mulhall (not verified)
on May 9, 2012

There is a distinction between needing and wanting. Yesterday's ranchers ID'd cattle by branding. We have our pet dog "chipped" in order not to lose her.

The finest U.S. producer of Family Convenience Items lunch meat and sausage can identify everything it needs to know about its product in case of recall.

Millions and millions of dollars are involved in product liability lawsuits. Does private industry think it's important to ID product? Some say, "Yes."

We have BSE issues in CA. News reports the animal came from the Fresno area. It is said the farm from where the animal came has been identified. That information lets dairymen and cattle guys in Chino and Perris breathe a sigh of relief that it didn't happen in their herds. They too deserve peace of mind.

No sane person wants to be involved with sickness or death. Ask Jack n the Box. In my opinion I think it's good to ID origination. Tyson does it right now with its beef.

Heber Hammon (not verified)
on May 9, 2012

Yes, we do. But the data needs to be owned by the producers and should not be used by the government in any data base without consent. The ID needs to be complete so that the animals origin and age can be verified quickly. I have followed this case carefully. Is it truly a spontaneous manifestation? Have they thoroughly tested the feed?

James (not verified)
on May 9, 2012

Not no, but Heck No, no animal ID. We already trace down diseases after the outbreak and animal ID does not prevent an outbreak. But it will be used by overreaching unelected bureaucrats to require government registration, the first step to confiscation.
Animal ID is essential for the successful prosecution of criminals and others in factory farming who dare to own an animal.

James (not verified)
on May 9, 2012

How will animal ID prevent BSE? It will not.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 9, 2012

Traceability is a key factor as we continue to grow our imports. Our largest international competitors Canada, Australia, etc are all doing this now. We will be left behind in the world beef market over time, as it continues to grow, unless we start to make traceability a priority in the very near future.

Tom Smith (not verified)
on May 9, 2012

In this nation founded on freedom, traceability should be voluntary. If the market pays a premium for it, the majority of producers will voluntarily provide the information. The rest will be financially penalized, and we will still be able to identify where those animals came from, just as we did in the years when brucellosis was a serious concern and no one had even dreamed of mandatory ID.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 9, 2012


Mark (not verified)
on May 9, 2012

We do branding or ear tags for our own identification. Aren't we putting alot of faith in someone else not to pin a huge law suit back on us? And where does the liability end up?

Dairy Girl (not verified)
on May 10, 2012

Yes, it only makes sense to be able to trace where an animal comes from in the event that animal has something, i.e. BSE. I think Animal ID protects each individual farmer .... it allows officials to isolate the location, versus saying, okay, this animal was i.e., BSE, where did it come from, Oh, we don't know, then they contact all producers who had cattle sent to then cause must alarm. Animal ID allows consumers another level of trust in us. Why not ID your animals, are you afraid of putting your name on animals you send out? It is also about responsibility to our consumers to be accountable for what we present to the food chain. Michigan has ID requires due to TB issues years back.

My opinion is YES.

Bobbi (not verified)
on May 11, 2012

We need a system but in NEEDS to be developed and managed by the industry not the government. It looks 100% better if we as an industry does it with out being told or regulated by the government. We EID every calf that leaves our ranch, we are proud to tell our consumers that the beef that came from our ranch, was well cared for and is safe to consume. Not only does it give the consumer the confidence in our products but it is another tool to inable us to make better management and business decisions.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 17, 2012

We need ID. For marketing but most for accountability. The disconnect between the cow/calf sector and the restaurant product is too great. We will lose out market shart to those countries willing to do the work.

Yes I don't trust the government but they already have any information about us they want.

on May 22, 2012

From my understanding, ID accomplishes two things:
1. Added traceability to be used for animal health and food safety purposes
2. Increased marketing opportunities with our global trading partners.

On the flip side, concerns about private property rights and the mis-use of this information are valid concerns.

It's clear this is a hot topic, and I appreciate the debate. I will continue to post updates on the BSE case, as information unfolds.

Livestock-ID (not verified)
on Jun 6, 2012

Yes, if the US Beef industry wants to compete in world markets.

No, if you don't want to export Beef outside of the US borders.

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What's BEEF Daily?

BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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