Beef Industry Discussing Animal ID

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - For many years the beef industry has had different procedures in place to allow livestock to be traced back to their ranch of origin. It just took a lot of steps and a lot of time. Today there is system in place from USDA for disease traceability. With growing concerns from some export markets and some domestic markets as well about where their food comes from, the beef industry is again discussing animal ID. Jason Cleere is a Texas A&M AgriLife beef cattle specialist.

“USDA did disease traceability in January of 2013 which is really a practical way of tracking interstate movement of cattle. So as they move across state lines cattle within certain classes, breeding cattle and so on, will have to have some kind of ID, whether it, it could be a brand, or it could be an ear tattoo, or even a back tag, or an official USDA disease traceability ID, or an EID tag, electronic ID tag. So they’ll have to have some kind of ID with the cattle, or identified as a group lot and accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection as they cross state lines.”

Cleere points out that the flip side is on the consumer or the marketing side of traceability.

“The cattle, the product that’s going to China or will go to China will have to have where it was born, the ranch origin as well as the packer origin of it. And then there’s also some other requirements as far as what it could have been fed and so on.”

Cleere says there’s also a small market of U.S. consumers that wants a little more information about their food.

“When we’ve got the safest most wholesome beef supply in the world, the average consumer appreciates that. I don’t think on the big scale that they’re interested in that, however some of these niche markets, where they’re more interested in farm to fork, and that’s perfectly fine. I mean if people interested and the consumer says I’m going to pay you this amount of extra for this product, whatever it may be, that’s how the U.S. was founded upon, business practices. If somebody wants it and there’s demand, we will supply it as long as the price is there to cover it.”