We’ve made progress in our ability to trace U.S. livestock for disease-control purposes, but the system needs to continue improving to become fully effective. That message resonated during the "Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability” which the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) and the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) hosted in September in Denver.
The groups recently released a White Paper summarizing the proceedings of the forum.
Dr. Sunny Geiser-Novotny, with USDA-APHIS-Veterinary Services (VS), provided background on the Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule, which, she notes, is designed as a basic bookend system. The system intends to allow animal health officials to trace a covered animal forward from the location where the animal was officially identified and back from the animal’s last location. It may also include information on the animal’s interstate movements. The system was set up as a basic foundation framework to be expanded over time, Geiser-Novotny says.
Geiser-Novotny presented data looking at four Traceability Performance Measures (TPMs), to illustrate the ADT system’s performance over three years. The baseline TPMs, measured in 2014, showed trace success ranged from 58% to 76% for the four TPMs, and time to find the necessary records ranged from four to 11 days. By 2016, trace success improved to a range of 86% to 91% for the four measures and the time to find records improved to 1-2 days.
Challenges for further improvements in the system include moving from reliance of visual tags to electronic radio-frequency identification (RFID), expanding the rule beyond interstate movement and expanding the rule to include feeder cattle. For cattle, the rule currently just covers breeding-age cattle and all ages of dairy-breed cattle. Feeder cattle represent a major exemption, but participants in the forum generally agreed neither the system’s infrastructure nor the industry as a whole are currently prepared to add feeder cattle to the requirements.
Other key points outlined in the White Paper include:
After the USDA solicited stakeholder feedback through a series of listening sessions last spring and summer, the ADT State/Federal Working Group developed a list of 14 preliminary recommendations to address the key issues. Once they publish those recommendations, USDA will allow a public comment period.
Producers and the industry have concerns regarding the amount of data that can be carried on an EID tag or CVI, the security of that data, and the ownership of the data.
A shift to RFID for official identification can enable and advance traceability through improved accuracy, allowing for traceability at the speed of commerce, reduced animal stress and by facilitating tag retirement at slaughter. Initial costs are higher than those for visual tags, but producers could see management advantages that would recoup those costs.
Only about 60% of producers are even aware that there is an ADT rule, which complicates any effort toward enforcement.
Individual states oversee their ADT programs, and representatives from several states outlined components of their programs that have demonstrated success.
Livestock markets bear much of the burden for ADT compliance and record keeping. Market owners and operators desire incentives to help offset the cost of traceability, and desire consistency of ADT enforcement across all sectors of the industry.
Collection and correlation of ID to carcasses at slaughter, currently conducted by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), is a critical component of traceability.
Many top international exporters of beef employ traceability as a key component of their programs, and the United States needs a viable system to remain competitive.
Animal health officials must have real-time access to traceability data in the event of an animal disease incident, and producers must have the confidence that their data will be secure and protected.
ADT is unlikely to be accepted by the industry unless industry stakeholders contribute significantly to the rule. A group of industry stakeholders needs to be assembled to drive the ADT movement forward. Representatives of several producer groups attending the forum expressed their commitment to this model and process, and a desire to be part of the solution.