Press Release: USDA Issues Final Animal ID Rule

The USDA issued a final rule on Animal ID today.  While we are still working on a complete analysis of the rule, USDA’s announcement identified several important changes that it made to the proposed rule, which make this final rule far less burdensome on family farmers, ranchers, and backyard poultry owners.

We want to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you who took the time to write comments on the proposed rule in response to our action alerts.  Your comments truly made a difference!  We didn’t get every change we pushed for, but we got most of them, thanks to your hard work and support.

We know that we will face another rulemaking on the “feeder cattle” issue (cattle under 18 months of age), and quite probably additional state-level fights on Animal ID.  We also know that we can make a difference when we work together to make our voices heard.  We can make the changes we need to protect our farms and ranches and change our food system.

Below is our press release about the proposed rule.  We will send out more detailed information as soon as we have had a chance to review the rule language closely.


Farm and Consumer Organizations Welcome Changes in USDA’s Final Animal ID Rule

Grassroots Comments Made an Impact

December 20, 2012: Organizations representing family farmers, ranchers, and consumers from across the country express cautious optimism about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) announcement today of its final Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule.More than 60 organizations had expressed concerns about the costs and impracticality of the proposed ADT rule as published in August 2011, and the USDA had received numerous public comments.

“Thousands of individuals, including both producers and consumers, spoke out against the burdens that the proposed rule would place on cow-calf operations, sale barns, small farmers, and backyard poultry owners,” stated Judith McGeary, Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.  “The final rule appears to address many, although not all, of their concerns.  It is very encouraging to see citizen action making a significant impact.”

Among the important changes announced by USDA are:

  • The exclusion of chicks sold by hatcheries across state lines from identification requirements;
  • The recognition of brands and tattoos as official forms of identification;
  • The continued use of back tags as an alternative to ear tags for cattle going to slaughter; and
  • The exclusion of beef feeder cattle from this rule, except for rodeo and show cattle.

“We are very pleased that the western cattlemen’s concerns about recognizing brands and exempting feeder cattle were listened to.  Ear tagging feeder cattle would impose significant burdens on farmers and ranchers,” noted Gilles Stockton, a Montana rancher and member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils.  “With the USDA pledging to address feeder cattle in a separate rule rather than including it in this one, we will be better able address the complicated issues.”

Over the next several weeks, policy experts from the organizations will be analyzing the details of the 145-page document to determine the impact the final rule will have on the family farmers and ranchers.  USDA states that the rule will be published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2012, and will be made effective 60 days later on February 26, 2013.

“We need to review the actual language of the rule, of course, but based on the information released today, it looks like USDA has listened to several key concerns raised by numerous groups throughout the process,” stated Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA.

For more information, contact:

Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, 512-484-8821

Bill Bullard, R-CALF USA,406-252-2516

Gilles Stockton, Western Organization of Resource Councils, 406-366-4463

Kathy Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition, 202-543-5675

Patty Lovera, Food and Water Watch, 202-683-2465