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Agricultural News

USDA Lays Groundwork on Disease Traceback System as Industry Begins to Warm Up to the Idea

Wed, 13 Feb 2019 10:07:44 CST

USDA Lays Groundwork on Disease Traceback System as Industry Begins to Warm Up to the Idea

It is a subject that has been widely covered by the beef industry ever since the infamous “Cow That Stole Christmas” in 2001 - animal disease traceability. Dr. Jessica Watson is the Associate Director for Animal Health Policy for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. She’s been tracking the ebb and flow of this issue for the last several years. During the NCBA’s recent convention in New Orleans, she sat down to discuss the status of this issue and where the industry stands on it with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays. According to her, now more than ever, it seems the industry is finally willing to address the possibility of implementing a traceability system head on.

“I think we’ve really seen an uptick in the initiative by producers and an interest in this issue. NCBA continues to remain engaged on all levels on this. We’ve had discussions with USDA Undersecretary Ibach, who announced four goals back in September,” she said. “Those goals surrounded use of electronic identification, electronic sharing of data between federal and state animal health officials, veterinarians and industry - looking at cattle and tracing them from birth to slaughter. So, I think that’s the focus we’re going to see USDA take over the next couple of years as we work with them to embrace this issue.”

While there is a lot of excitement circulating, this topic brings up with it some residual angst among producers across cattle country - with legitimate concerns regarding the details of how secure and private the information collected is, how exactly the data is collected, what technologies the industry will conform to, etc. - not to mention the cost of implementing such a system. However, Watson insists USDA is adamant in remaining technology neutral and allow the industry to work out its own preferences. She agrees the details need to be worked out but assures the benefits will become clear once those have been addressed. Especially when the industry begins to realize the marketing potential that having a traceback system in place can facilitate.

“I think there could be a dual approach and I think that is what our industry is trying to look at right now is - do we want to keep it more focused on disease traceability - and I think that’s the main goal,” Watson said. “But, I think having that technology would open a lot of markets and allow producers to take advantage of those market value programs.”

Listen to Watson and Hays’ full discussion to learn more about the industry’s evolving consensus on animal ID and disease traceability, on today’s Beef Buzz - brought to you by the American Angus Association. America’s breed.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.



Hear their full discussion to learn more about the industry's evolving consensus on disease traceback.
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