The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the proposed Animal Disease Traceability rule on August 9, 2011 with a 90 day comment period. USDA subsequently extended the comment period to December 9, 2011. The purpose of the proposed rule is to improve the ability to trace livestock, including horses, involved in interstate movement in the event of a disease outbreak. The proposed rule establishes minimum national identification requirements to achieve basic traceability with simplified identification means, including branding, to respond to a disease outbreak.
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. Horses would have to be identified by one of the following methods:
A description of the 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’s proposed definition for official identification of horses traveling interstate essentially mirrors the current requirements under a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection or Coggins’ papers and allows the use of microchips and future technologies such as Iris scans,” said Dudley Hoskins, Director of Health & Regulatory Affairs for the AHC.
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.
The Equine Species Working Group (ESWG), which includes over thirty equine associations, continues to evaluate the new ADTP and its potential costs and benefits to the horse industry. The ESWG wants to be sure that any system put in place protects the health and welfare of the entire U.S. horse population while not adversely affecting the business continuity in the horse industry.