Groups circulate petitions to preserve animal identification options
BILLINGS, Mont. — In the wake of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s failed effort to prohibit all current forms of official animal identification devices other than the most costly and most intrusive — radio frequency identification (RFID) eartags, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and R-CALF USA are circulating an online petition in an effort to preserve choices for independent U.S. cattle producers.
The Cattle Owners’ Petition for South Dakota urges the South Dakota state veterinarian to represent cattle owners’ animal identification interests by preserving the cattle owners’ right to continually choose among various official animal identification methods and devices when meeting all present and future state or federal animal identification initiatives.
The petition states, “Specifically, we request the South Dakota State Veterinarian to continually support our rights and privileges described in the 2013 final rule, ‘Traceability of Livestock Moving Interstate,’ that states ‘Official Identification Devices and Methods’ include official eartags, which include metal eartags (such as the orange-colored metal brucellosis tags) containing a National Uniform Eartagging System (NUES) number that does not require premises registration or a Premises Identification Number (PIN); properly registered brands accompanied by an official brand inspection certificate; tattoos and other identification methods acceptable to breed associations (accompanied by a breed registration certificate); group/lot identification numbers; backtags; or other forms of identification as agreed to by the shipping and receiving states.”
South Dakota ranchers Kenny and Roxy Fox are among the plaintiffs of the successful R-CALF USA lawsuit filed against the USDA that caused the agency to withdraw its plan to prohibit all other forms of official animal identification other than RFID eartags and their associated requirement for premises registration of all ranchers’ property.
According to Kenny Fox, the USDA’s unlawful action clearly disclosed that the agency’s future plans are to mandate RFID eartags and premises registration and producers need a local champion within the animal health community to preserve their rights and privileges.
“That’s why our petition is directed at our state veterinarian, who serves to represent the South Dakota cattle industry on animal health matters,” Fox said adding, “We need our state veterinarian to know that our ranches are not one-size-fits-all businesses, and we must continue to have animal identification options to maintain economically viable operations.”
South Dakota Stockgrowers Association President Scott Edoff explained that while the withdrawn RFID mandate was a top-down initiative originating at the federal level, it is important for each State Veterinarian’s interests to be aligned with the cattle producers in their respective states.
“Our South Dakota petition is intended to align the interests of South Dakota cattle ranchers with that of the South Dakota State Veterinarian,” Edoff said.
In addition to South Dakota, R-CALF USA is circulating petitions for several other states where the group has strong state affiliates that can deliver the completed petitions to their respective state veterinarians.
The petitions will be circulated for one-year and after the Feb. 5, 2021 deadline, will be delivered to the respective state’s state veterinarian. The petitions can be accessed at www.StopMandatoryRFID.com.