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Ranchers Weigh in, Criticize Proposed Cattle Identification Rules

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The comment period for proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture rules on Animal Disease Traceability will come to a close late tomorrow evening at 10 o’clock.
Among other things, the proposed rules would remove hot-iron cattle branding from the list of acceptable USDA forms of identification for livestock moving across state lines. Instead, the main identification form would be an ear tag for cattle.


Proponents say many ranchers have already made the change, adding that putting a focus on numeric ids in ear tags would make the US more competitive in the global beef export market. But the group Ranchers–Cattleman Action Legal Fund, or R-Calf, says the change would cost cattlemen more with little pay off.

Bill Bullard, executive director of the group, says R-Calf estimated the cost at about $30 per calf.

“That’s not the cost of the tag, that’s the cost of the labor, time and equipment needed to catch each animal in a head gate, apply the tag and record  the tag’s number,” he says.

Under the new rule, Colorado and 13 other states would still allow ranchers to use the brand as a form of identification within state boundaries.

The comment period ends tomorrow night. After the deadline, the USDA will review comments and decide whether to move forward with the existing rules or go through another drafting phase.

Click here to contact the USDA about the proposed rules.

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