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Rounds bill would prevent mandatory electronic tags for cattle and bison

South Dakota Searchlight

A demonstration of a radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tag. (Courtesy of USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service)

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, introduced legislation Wednesday that would prevent the federal government from implementing a rule requiring the use of electronic identification tags on cattle and bison.

“South Dakota cattle producers don’t need D.C. bureaucrats telling them how to manage and track their livestock,” Rounds said in a press release.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued the final rule last month and said it will be effective 180 days after publication in the federal register. The department said the rule would put in place “the technology, tools, and processes to help quickly pinpoint and respond to costly foreign animal diseases.”

“Rapid traceability in a disease outbreak will not only limit how long farms are quarantined, keep more animals from getting sick, and help ranchers and farmers get back to selling their products more quickly – but will help keep our markets open,” said Dr. Michael Watson, administrator of the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The department said the rule applies to “all sexually intact cattle and bison 18 months of age or older, all dairy cattle, cattle and bison of any age used for rodeo or recreation events, and cattle or bison of any age used for shows or exhibitions.”

The rule requires official ear tags to be visually and electronically readable for interstate movement of certain cattle and bison. The tags are often described as RFID, for radio frequency identification. Rounds said the rule would also require records to be entered into a tribal, state or federal database, allowing the federal government to access the information.

“USDA’s proposed RFID mandate is federal government overreach, plain and simple,” Rounds said, adding that if farmers and ranchers want to use electronic tags, they can do so voluntarily.

Doris Lauing, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, said in Rounds’ press release that the federal mandate would be a “violation of constitutional personal property rights” and an “unnecessary expense.”

Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA, said the mandatory ear tags “will cost the industry tens of millions of dollars without any means of recovery from the marketplace.”



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