Cattlemen unite to remove remnants of former ID program
The Texas Animal Disease Traceability program is currently in its fifth month of operation, but remnants of the former National Animal Identification System still remain in the Texas Agricultural Code. A number of livestock groups, including the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, and the Livestock Marketing Association, have joined forces to support Texas HB 2311. This bill is related to a state animal identification program and the identification of animals vaccinated for or infected with brucellosis, or “Bangs disease.”
According to Bill Hyman, executive director of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, by email, the above groups “helped write the bill that would limit the TAHC [Texas Animal Health Commission] from exceeding federal animal disease traceability rules. The current TAHC ADT [Animal Disease Traceability] rules in Texas exceed the federal rules.”
Per the state identification system that went into effect Jan. 1, all dairy animals, roping calves, and breeding stock ages 18 months and older must be tagged. But tagging animals intended to go directly to slaughter has caused a stampede in the cattle industry.
During the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas state convention held last June in San Marcos, the board of directors approved a resolution that states that “... the increased cost for permanent tagging, coupled with the potential loss of value from risk of injury resulting from the tagging process for animals which are destined for slaughter often at the end of their productive lives, may result in a significant loss of monetary value to cattle producers with no additional benefit to animal disease traceability.”
Hyman addressed this in his email.
“The main point of contention is using permanent metal or RFID [Radio Frequency Identification Devices] on slaughter cattle,” Hyman wrote. “We believe that cattle destined to go directly to slaughter should be able to travel with only an adhesive back tag for identification. This eliminates having to subject the cattle to additional handling and having to be placed in a chute and head gate at the auction barns. It also saves ranchers who are selling old cows or cull cows from having to use the metal tags provided by the TAHC.”
While the state animal health commission requires tagging for such animals, the federal animal disease traceability plan that went into effect March 11 exempts animals at auction barns, which are allowed the use of the adhesive back tag if they are going directly to slaughter.
As the rules were updated, the sponsors also deleted any language similar to the now-defunct National Animal Identification System, such as the “premises identification numbers assigned to each geographically unique location associated with animal agriculture,” a fee to impose the program, and a date for this to become mandatory.
Although the federal National Animal Identification System program has been scrapped, these cattle organizations want to ensure the animal identification program has vanished.
The state House of Representatives passed the HB 2311 April 26, but the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance continues to oppose the bill.
“The current federal regulations include a requirement that all poultry be individually tagged with permanent leg bands when they cross states lines, unless they are from a commercial hatchery or a confinement operation,” the group said April 25. “The bill would also authorize the TAHC to adopt future federal regulations at will, which could mean new regulations on sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, and horses.”