Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is back again with the vice president of governmental affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Ethan Lane, talking about animal disease traceability.
The ability to effectively trace animal disease, Lane said, in the case of a disease outbreak is critical to help beef start moving again. He added that having rapid access to animal health data to demonstrate which animals are safe for transport and harvest starts with having an animal disease traceability system.
“Obviously, USDA is working through a rulemaking right now on their mandatory EID for breeding animals over 18 months, sexually intact, moving interstate, so about 11 percent of the herd,” Lane said. “We are working on our side of that with our voluntary plan for working through that.”
NCBA will continue to weigh in with USDA on ensuring producers will not bear the cost of this system, Lane said, as disease traceability benefits the entire supply chain.
“There are a tremendous amount of tags already out there,” Lane said.
Lane said it is important to make sure the data is moving at the speed of commerce, but in a way that does not stockpile producer data unnecessarily, creating targets for animal rights activists and groups with agendas against animal agriculture.
“We want to make sure that information is accessible when it is needed, but no more than that,” Lane said.
Disease traceability needs to be in place as soon as possible, Lane said, because once there is an outbreak, it will be too late.
“We need to make sure producers are in the driver’s seat, rather than just responding to a government mandate,” Lane said.
Working toward disease traceability, funds through the Secure Beef Supply Plan are being collected to prepare for the scenario of a disease outbreak in the U.S.
“We spend a lot of time in our office, as does the rest of animal agriculture, thinking and planning and working on the realities that animal disease issues are all over the globe,” Lane said.
It takes a tremendous amount of planning, Lane said, to prepare for any circumstance relating to a disease outbreak, as the consequences can involve U.S. beef being turned down by other countries. Not only must the nation constantly be aware of the status of other countries, Lane said, but also have precautions in place, such as a vaccine bank to fall back on if disease makes its way into the U.S.
“Laying that groundwork before the storm is really important,” Lane said.
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