Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is visiting with the new president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Todd Wilkinson about disease traceability in the cattle industry.
Wilkinson, a South Dakota native, cow-calf producer and cattle feeder became the new NCBA president during the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention, held last week in New Orleans. Wilkinson, along with his son, operates Wilkinson Livestock in De Smet, South Dakota. He has also practiced law for almost four decades and specializes in business transactions, estate planning and probate, real estate matters and agricultural law.
The 2023 Cattle Industry Convention coverage is being powered by Performance Ranch, a part of Zoetis, and by Farm Data Services located in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
You make a commitment to serve the industry and it is one you make with the knowledge that it is a process,” Wilkinson said. “It is a lot of time away from home, but the reward for everything I have done in NCBA- I can actually see this organization improve the industry and that is just gratifying.”
Wilkinson said progress is finally being made toward animal disease traceability working at the speed of commerce. Chairing a working group on disease traceability from across the country this past year, Wilkinson said they have come up with a proposed policy on the subject.
“It is going to ask that the industry, the beef industry, start with electronic identification and be able to track a disease outbreak whether it is foot and mouth or whatever it is, quickly so that we don’t have to quarantine major segments of the country,” Wilkinson said.
The working group on disease traceability, Wilkinson said, has established a few goals including having 67 percent of the beef herd electronically in place by 2026.
“That is a pretty lofty goal, but I will tell you that a lot of the breed associations are already way ahead on this,” Wilkinson said. “Dairy with the USDA has proposal is going to be well ahead of that, if that rule goes into effect.”
NCBA believes this type of program should be voluntary and led by producers, Wilkinson said, not dictated by the government. Wilkinson also made sure to add that this program is not urging producers to go and re-tag their bulls and current cow herd, but instead start from the ground up.
“This is going to start with your heifers, and it is going to build over time,” Wilkinson said. “Eventually your cowherd, over a period of years is going to go and move into that.”
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