The USDA Issued a What for What?

Just before the Christmas holiday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a final ruling to establish regulations for tracing livestock moving interstate. But, what does this mean?


Animal disease traceability is knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they’ve been and when they were there. This is very important to ensure a rapid response when animal disease events take place. An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps speed up response time by reducing the number of animals involved in an investigation and decreases the cost to producers and the government.

The ruling will allow for increased food security providing dependability in terms of supply and quality, among other attributes.  Should there be an animal disease occurrence, the final ruling would allow for efficient trace back of infected animals and the rapid quarantine of potentially exposed animals. This ensures that healthy animals can continue to move freely to processing facilities, providing a dependable and affordable source for consumers and protect producer’s livelihoods. At that point, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service methods for quality assurance take over and assure further safety and security of the food supply.


The USDA presented an original plan for traceability in August 2011 and opened the original plan up for consumer and producer comment. Those comments closed and a final ruling was made on Dec. 20, 2012. The ruling will take effect at the end of February 2013.


Under the final rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate (across state lines) would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates. An additional ruling for beef cattle less than 18 months of age will be coming, but for now they are exempt from the official identification requirement in this rule.

Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection

Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection

For more specific details about the regulation and how it will affect producers, visit


— Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2010 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients. 

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