(IntegrityPress.org) – A proposal from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that sets a requirement for electronic ear tags for cattle and bison crossing state lines has raised concerns among American ranchers. An industry expert has argued that this mandate could impose unnecessary costs on ranchers and subsequently lead to higher beef prices.
Livestock are currently monitored using ear tags with 11-digit numbers that are both visible and trackable. However, the proposed regulations, published in the Federal Register on January 19, would require the addition of radio-frequency identification to ear tags. These tags should be capable of both visual and electronic reading to be considered official ear tags for the interstate movement of cattle and bison.
The Health Inspection Service of Animals regulation would include all sorts of livestock, including cattle and bison at least a year and a half old or older, all female dairy cattle. male dairy cattle, cattle and bison of all ages used for rodeo or recreational events, and cattle and bison of any age used for shows or exhibitions like zoos.
Justin Tupper, the president of the United States Cattlemen’s Association, expressed his apprehensions about the proposal, emphasizing the potential challenges it could pose to the industry. He highlighted the existing difficulties that ranchers face in maintaining affordable beef prices and warned that this new expense might have to be passed on to consumers. Tupper stressed that each step of implementing this mandate would carry significant costs and could even potentially increase the risks to the animals.
Electronic tags for tracking livestock have been a subject of controversy since 2003 because of the discovery of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States. The cattle industry has gradually been moving towards stricter traceability rules and technology adoption since then. While most livestock owners support tracing, Justin Tupper emphasized the importance of a concise system that doesn’t hurt ranchers financially.
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