Ranchers say ‘no’ to mandatory animal ID

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service came to Billings Wednesday to get feedback from ranchers on the 2013 Animal Disease Traceability program. Many ranchers from across the region said there is no need for expanding identification for feeder cattle.

“This should be a question of disease prevention and preparation, not a question of identification,” said Gilles Stockton, a spokesperson for Northern Plains Resource Council and a rancher near Grass Range who’s experienced mandatory ID for his sheep. Northern Plains is a Montana-based conservation and family agriculture group. “If we see a serious disease come to our herds, such as foot and mouth disease, our current systems are not prepared. But expanding ID to feeder cattle isn’t going to change that. What we really need to focus on is preventing disease from getting into our herds, and preparing our nation to respond.

“However, the USDA is currently on the table for extreme budget cuts from this administration. If we are serious about protecting the American cattle herd, we need to fund this work and support APHIS to do its critical job.”

The Billings hearing was one of nine nationwide. The USDA will release findings from the hearings in a report in the fall.



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