Cattlemen Pass Policy for Traceability

NCBA Delegates Update Association Policy on Traceability to Agree With USDA Rules

Jennifer Carrico
By  Jennifer Carrico , Senior Livestock Editor
Michigan cattle producer Monte Bordner discussed the reasons why cattlemen in his state support electronic identification. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Jennifer Carrico)

ORLANDO, Fla. (DTN) -- State delegates at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association annual meeting and trade show (CattleCon) in Orlando, Florida, discussed which policies should be adopted by the association representing cattle producers across the nation.

Discussions leading up to the NCBA Cattle Health & Well-Being Committee meeting on Thursday were seen on both sides of the issue regarding traceability and electronic identification (EID).

First, a directive was brought forward by the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, with support from Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming regarding NCBA working with state departments of agriculture, state animal health officials, veterinary organizations, extension agents, cattle industry associations and other groups to adopt EID tags and lead implementation of an effective animal disease traceability system. This directive passed unanimously.

The group then moved on to amending the current policy CH 10.3, which was brought forward by Nebraska Cattlemen, with support from California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Washington, and Texas. The resolution already discussed the need for traceability during animal health emergencies and its use in verification programs. Amendments were made to support federal and state funding for tagging devices and reader infrastructure.

Further additions were made to support implementation of EID devices for interstate movement of cattle subject to the 2013 USDA Animal Disease Traceability Rule, along with education on using these devices and following the USDA rule. It also includes the support of an industry managed, nongovernment database collaborator.

Discussion started and producer delegates showed support and opposition to the amendments.

"There is nowhere in [the] directive that it states this is a voluntary program. By saying movement of all cattle, it seems that it is mandatory," said Matt McElligott, from Oregon.

Mary Ann Kniebel, of Kansas, pointed out the rule already exists within USDA and these changes are just to bring NCBA policy in agreement with what has been on USDA books since 2013.

"In Michigan, we have a long track record of EID in our state. To the discussion of the cost of the tags, I'll take you back 20 years to the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) issue that cost our industry $15 billion. We've already paid the dues on that, and a $3 tag is a good insurance policy to keep it from happening again," said Michigan cattle producer Monte Bordner. "We need to move forward with the voluntary feeder calf tagging so we can be prepared."

Jack Field, executive director of the Washington Cattle Feeders Association, said his producers are in support of the ruling and have been working together with health officials in the state since the famous BSE Christmas cow was found in Washington state 20 years ago, on Dec. 23, 2003. "There has been a lot of conversation on this proposal leading up to convention. This is just restating the current regulation, which has been in place for 10 years," he added.

After much discussion, the amendment to the directive passed and will be presented to the full board of directors meeting. For more information, visit

Jennifer Carrico can be reached at

Follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter, @JennCattleGal

Jennifer Carrico