toppin’ outBY TIM O’BYRNE
Animal Disease Traceability
Where Do We Go from Here?
On Aug. 3, 2018 at the
National Cattlemen’s Beef
Association (NCBA) Summer Conference in Denver, Colo.,
a resolution was brought forth by Kansas Livestock
Association (KLA) to support enhanced disease traceability
systems. Lang uage in this resolution states that
NCBA is the industry-leading organization on animal
identifi cation issues. With a renewed emphasis on
preventing the introduction of foreign animal disease,
the heart of this resolution addresses the importance of
establishing indiv idual identifi cation (ID) plans to ensure
disease traceability response is at the speed of commerce.
Following are the directives of this resolution.
1. Be compatible with private sector animal I D
and verifi cation programs backed by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA).
2. Be compatible with general traceability principles
of the World Organization for Animal Health (OI E).
3. Recognize existing U SDA programs for beef exports.
4. Be built using infrastructure that supports other
potential uses of I D.
5. Utilize low-cost electronic offi cial tagging devices
paid for by federal and/or state funds when
6. Require that cattle ID information for disease traceability
be kept confi dential and strongly protected
7. Protect ownership information from disclosure to
8. Protect producers from liability for acts of others,
after the cattle have left a producer’s control.
9. Operate at the speed of commerce.
10. Not replace or impede existing state brand inspection
11. Work within a framework to accommodate all
classes of cattle.
12. After a ver y positive discussion, the resolution was
passed . Now the question is, “Where do we go from
Special Guest Editorial
From Tim: I asked Mike Drinnin,
Nebraska Cattlemen President-Elect,
if we could reprint his Leader’s
Letter column from the October
2018 issue of Nebraska Cattleman
magazine. Food for thought.
Putting together the
logistics and forming a
system that works at the
speed of commerce will take ample time and effort
by many people. This will most certainly be the start
of many hours of research and discussion to address
animal disease traceability (ADT) in the United States.
Canada and other countries have an I D system in place
that doesn’t require traceability. The direction of this
resolution is similar to Australia ’s traceability program
in which an I D is required before an animal can move
from a premise. Once the animal has the ID, it would
be recorded in the database for all future movements. A
large task lies ahead of us. None of this is insurmountable,
since other countries have implemented similar
programs we can use as a template to help expedite
research and logistics with traceability programs.
What drives us to look at ADT? Many of you remember
in June of 2009 a positive tuberculosis was detected in
Nebraska. In efforts to track down other affected herds,
Nebraska state veterinarians and the U SDA spent up to
six months and tested nearly 20,000 head of cattle to
keep Nebraska’s bov ine tuberculosis-free status. The
cost incurred by our state veterinary department and
US DA was more than $800,000. If there ever were a
case of the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease
(FMD) in the United States, six months would be a
lifetime for the beef industr y. In the September 2018
issue of Nebraska Cattleman, there is a very good article
about Secure Beef Supply plans. According to the article,
an outbreak of FMD in the United States could result
in losses of $15 to $100 billion. The longer it takes to
get FMD-free status, the greater the costs to the beef
industry. Having ADT that moves quickly can allow us to
instill consumer confi dence in the United States and get
us back into foreign markets quicker to restore equity to
producers. Quoting a friend, “Having a traceability program
in place prior to a disease outbreak is critical. In a
recall event, would you want to recall a large amount of
product or be able to narrow it to a small amount?”
Cattlemen leading the discussions with ADT is a proactive
approach to the continued success and profi tability
of the beef industry. I enc ourage you to engage in this
important subject as it is discussed in the Animal Health
and Nutrition Committee at our convention in December.Q
By Mike Drinnin
14 I WORKING RANCH I JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019