On August 10, 2011, the American Horse Council reported that the  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed its Animal Disease Traceability rule.  USDA stated there will be a 90 day period for public comment, which will close on November 9, 2011.

The announcement has been anticipated by animal livestock groups across the country after USDA replaced the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) with the Animal Disease Traceability Program (ADTP) in early 2010. The former NAIS program was not fully embraced by the livestock community and generated numerous concerns surrounding confidentiality, liability, cost, and privacy.

Rather than attempting to identify every animal, every premise and every animal movement to achieve traceback within 48 hours of a disease outbreak, the proposed ADTP rule is aimed at designing a simplified program to achieve basic traceability with simplified identification means, including branding, to respond to a disease outbreak.

The purpose of the proposed rule is to improve the ability to trace livestock, including horses, in the event of a disease outbreak.  The proposed rule establishes minimum national identification requirements to trace livestock that move interstate. Under the proposed rule, livestock that are moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation.

Under the proposed rule, horses would have to be identified by one of the following methods:

  • A description of the individual horse, such as: name, age, breed, color, gender, distinctive markings, and unique and permanent forms of identification when present (e.g., brands, tattoos, scars, cowlicks, or blemishes); or
  • Electronic identification, such as certain microchips; or
  • Digital photographs that identify the individual horse; or
  • A USDA backtag for horses being commercially transported for slaughter.

The ADTP will be administered by the states with federal support and will only apply to animals, including horses, moving interstate.  The new program will encourage the use of lower-cost technology and ensure the traceability data is owned and maintained by the states and tribal nations.  USDA indicated it will share the costs of the new program with the states.

Click here to view the complete proposed rule.

The following documents are now available on the USDA-APHIS web site:

USDA Seeks Comments on Animal Disease Traceability Rule

General Questions and Answers:  Animal Disease Traceability Proposed Rule

Questions and Answers for Producers of Different Species Groups

Summary of Traceability Economic Analysis

If you have any comments, please post them below or e-mail them to editor@equiery.com.


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