FARFA Comments to Texas Animal Health Commission on Proposed Exemption for Mandatory Cattle ID

Via e-mail: comments@tahc.state.tx.us

Texas Animal Health Commission
P.O. Box 12966
Austin, TX 78711-2966

Re: Comments on proposed change to 4 TAC §35.4

Dear TAHC:

The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance is a national organization, based in Texas, that supports independent family farmers and protects a healthy and productive food supply for American consumers. FARFA promotes common sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems.

FARFA submits these comments on the proposed changes to 4 TAC § 35.4. FARFA urges the agency to broaden the proposed exemption to cover all cattle that are being sold to go directly to slaughter, regardless of the location of the sale.

As set out in FARFA’s comments on April 6th regarding the proposed rule that established the current requirement for mandatory tagging, the agency lacks statutory authority to require identification by itself, separate from a disease control measure. This lack of statutory authority reflects a fundamental principle: requiring tagging is not a proper substitute for real disease control measures.

As was also set out in FARFA’s April comments, the proposal to require tagging was based on flawed assumptions about USDA’s proposed animal ID rule and the probability of funding. Notably, the USDA still has yet to issue a final Animal ID rule.

The current proposed amendment is an improvement because it recognizes that tagging imposes stress on the animals and, under some circumstances, may be both harmful and unnecessary. FARFA supports this amendment, but urges that it be expanded to provide an exemption for all animals being sold to go to slaughter. By limiting the exemption to a discretionary decision made at a sale barn, the amendment illogically creates a more stringent legal standard for private sales occurring on farms.

FARFA, along with multiple organizations and individuals, has repeatedly urged the agency to include an exemption for cattle going directly to slaughter. The agency’s sole justification for refusing such an exemption has been that it would complicate enforcement. In other words, the gency is imposing unnecessary burdens on law-abiding citizens merely to make it easier for the agency to identify people who fail to comply with the law. The agency should not impose regulatory burdens that do not improve animal or public health, and the exemption to the
identification requirement should include all direct-to-slaughter animals, without requiring approval by an agency official and regardless of the location of the sale.

Judith McGeary
Executive Director
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance