Traceability Leads Discussion at NCBA Convention

by Brett McRae

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in the United States would lead to an immediate stop of all livestock movement for at least 72 hours, most major export markets would close to our products, and the economic impact from an outbreak could be as high as $228 billion.

At the Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Orlando, Florida last week, cattle producers from around the country ideated on what a system would look like that could trace the path of contagion from a foreign animal disease outbreak, mitigating the effects of such a disease on the industry.

Ranchers from our region maintain that any animal identification system must be voluntary for producers to implement. Montana Stockgrowers Association President John Grande from Martinsdale, said MSGA has policy on the books supporting a voluntary traceability system.

“Traceability is something that’s come up in the past and NCBA’s position on traceability, as well as Montana Stockgrowers policy has been that we support a significant but voluntary program.”

At the convention, a resolution was passed out of committee supporting the use of electronic identification (EID) in the cattle industry. Grande says that what producers talked about in that discussion, applies to cattle already tracked through interstate commerce.

“…what we’re looking at are still the cattle that are currently already tracked, like the Brucellosis cattle, the breeding age cattle, that are already by law tracked under the animal disease traceability system… That includes, you know, the breeding age sexually intact cattle over 18 months in age, as well as some dairy type cattle and some cattle used for rodeos and exhibitions. We’re going to be looking at changing that from just a metal clip tag to an E ID tag, but it’ll still be on those cattle that are already covered already, as opposed to changing the system to have complete traceability on any and all cattle moving interstate.”

He added that the Stockgrowers Associations in Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana oppose any sort of mandatory EID traceability system.

Wyoming Stockgrowers Association President Jack Berger from Saratoga says traceability is something the industry must stay ahead of given proposed federal policy.

“Traceability is always a big topic. And it’s something we can’t hide our heads in the sand on, we don’t need to promote it. But we need to direct it. USDA already has policy, so we better be paying attention.”

USDA proposed a rule in January 2023 that would require electronic identification of all sexually intact cattle and bison 18 months of age and older, dairy cattle, rodeo and exhibition cattle.

2023 NCBA President Todd Wilkinson said the discussion for this topic involved cattle producers from many different regions representing the grassroots nature of the organizations policy.

“You know, the neat thing about this process, and I will tell you, I was in that room the entire time, it was standing room only. And there you had people from all across the country, who came with their idea of how it was going to work for their county and for their state. And that’s really the definition of NCBA, grassroots producer driven discussion, and there was three or four different versions of policy changes that came that were being floated around. But ultimately, that group came up with one that they passed, almost unanimously.”


Northern Ag Network

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