Strong and ongoing collaboration among producers, commercial interests and regulatory agencies at both the state and federal level is the key component to successful animal disease traceability in the U.S.

This was just one point of agreement included in a White Paper developed from the discussions at the Joint Strategy Forum on Animal Disease Traceability, which was collaboratively developed by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), and the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) and held Aug. 30-31 in Denver.

The White Paper summarizes the main discussion points reached by the 193 forum attendees; 43 states, four tribes, 33 state animal health agencies, 38 industry organizations, eight universities, and 34 producers and supply companies were represented. In addition, representatives from Canada, Mexico and Japan attended.

Forum attendees recognized a significant need for more efficient and effective animal disease traceability among all states and livestock species. The White Paper includes in-depth notes from the forum discussions on several subjects including:

  • The inclusion of identifying feeder cattle after a workable system is in place for adult cattle.
  • The use and relevance of “Brite” tags, back tags and brands.
  • Reasonable timelines and benchmarks for states to implement a traceability system.
  • How to accommodate the needs of different species.
  • Uniform data collection among states.
  • The use of official “840” eartags for U.S. born animals.
  • Education and outreach to animal producers, handlers, marketers and processors in regard to new requirements.
The focus of the forum was on the preliminary directions the Traceability Regulation Working Group (TRWG) is suggesting in the areas of official identification, exemptions, performance standards, compliance components, recordkeeping requirements, and proposed timelines.

The White Paper notes that efforts to develop animal identification methods and systems to provide traceability have been underway for several years; however, issues such as data confidentiality, system costs, a lack of understanding of device and reader technology, and a lack of standardization has led to frustration and pushback from producers.

Last February, USDA announced a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the U.S. The framework is projected to provide the basic tenets of an improved animal disease traceability capability nationwide. USDA suggests it will:

  • Only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce;
  • Be administered by the states and tribal nations to provide more flexibility;
  • Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and
  • Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.
Following the announcement of the new direction, state and tribal animal health officials, through TRWG, have been developing the basic tenants of the new traceability framework. It is anticipated that USDA will draft a proposed rule on animal disease traceability which is projected to be published by April, 2011 and provide for a 60 to 90-day public comment period.

Please visit for more information about the meeting and to download the White Paper.

-- USAHA/NIAA release