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Agricultural News

USDA Program Designers Struggle to Balance Cost vs. Incentive in Promoting Traceability Participation

Mon, 19 Aug 2019 12:00:23 CDT

USDA Program Designers Struggle to Balance Cost vs. Incentive in Promoting Traceability Participation

The United States Department of Agriculture is proposing the cattle industry transition to an electronic identification system to monitor livestock more efficiently and enhance its traceback capability in regard to animal disease purposes. In concert with that, Dr. James Mitchell, along with Dr. Glynn Tonsor of Kansas State University, have been conducting research looking at cattle producers’ and buyers’ willingness to adopt a cattle traceability system.

“USDA program designers are really concerned about increasing our response time in preventing disease losses, but as we know those in the cattle industry - we’re most interested in making money,” Mitchell said. “So, you have kind of this conflicting story here of trying to make an effective traceability program - but also trying to incentivize people to use this program because for a traceability program to be effective, you need high enrollment at the animal level and the producer level.”

The incentives being discussed, is of course in reference to prices. Mitchell says the department’s current work is considering what premiums would be feasible in driving participation in the program which will ultimately align the industry’s traceability system. But Mitchell points out that while premiums might be the incentive that boosts this program, the thing that stands in its way is unsurprisingly the cost factor. This dilemma has been a key component of the research Mitchell and Tonsor have conducted.

“Not surprising but still an important thing to note is for feeder cattle sellers - they are more sensitive to the cost or the premium discount they would have to pay to receive cattle with some form of traceability then they are the premium discount that they might receive moving forward,” he said. “When you think about sellers, that’s not entirely surprising because that cost of implementing a traceability program - that’s more than just the physical cost of purchasing a tag and implementing a tag… That can mean changes in how you manage animals, it could be changing your recordkeeping system, how you process animals and things like that. So, that cost is a very important aspect for those that are making those first adoption decisions.”

Hear Mitchell talk more about the challenges of successfully implementing an industrywide electronic traceability system, with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, on today’s Beef Buzz.

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 Mitchell talk more about the challenges of successfully implementing a traceability system below.
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