USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach Shares His Vision for National Beef Production Traceability SystemFri, 03 Aug 2018 14:10:41 CDT
There is a lot of informal discussion taking place this year among cattle producers and industry leaders at the 2018 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting about the prospect of establishing a national animal identification disease traceability system. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays is on location in Denver covering the event this week and caught up with USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, who shared his thoughts on how such a system might be implemented in the United State’s beef industry. Listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“We’ve had a lot of discussion on the Farm Bill on the impact that Foot & Mouth Disease can have on the economy and the beef and pork industry,” Ibach said. “The key component in being able to control and contain an outbreak in the event one occurs in the United States, would be knowing where animals came from that might be infected or where animals that are infected may be moving to. To minimize economic impact - we need traceability within the system.”
Ibach sees both the industry itself and the USDA playing a role in the development of such a system. Speaking for the USDA, Ibach says his department could assist by developing the necessary frameworks that this system would be built around. One of these frameworks he suggests would be the facilitation of the use of electronic health certificates that could move more rapidly between states. Another would be to define what pieces of information is needed from states for animals that are moving in interstate commerce.
In addition, Ibach views the industry playing a role that would define the technologies and software needed to effectively facilitate the transmittal of that data between producers and the different segments of the industry. The one remaining question, however, is where the funding will come from to actually implement it. Ibach suggests the financial burden be spread between both the government and the industry.
“It’s a partnership - USDA will pay for part of it and the producers and the public needs to understand the benefit to them as well,” he said, reminding us of the potentially devastating consequences an outbreak could have financially on the entire industry if an outbreak did occur with no system in place to control it.
However, Ibach says there are already verification programs in place and being practiced - part of several different branded programs in the industry currently. He says those systems are a perfect foundation a basic traceability program. In fact, he also suggests that producers who incorporate these systems into their operations can actually stand to extract more profit from the consumer as an added-value product. While at the same time, he says, they would be creating a safety net around the threat of spreading infectious diseases in our livestock.
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