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After Years of Livestock Industry Wrangling USDA Issues Final "Animal ID Rule"

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Organizations representing family farmers, ranchers, and consumers from across the country express cautious optimism about the impact of U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) announcement today of its final Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule.  The rule was publicly released by the USDA on December 20.

More than 60 organizations had expressed concerns about the costs and impracticality of the proposed ADT rule when a draft was published in August 2011, and the USDA had received numerous public comments.

"Thousands of individuals, including both producers and consumers, spoke out against the burdens that the proposed rule would place on cow-calf operations, sale barns, small farmers, and backyard poultry owners," stated Judith McGeary, Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.  "The final rule appears to address many, although not all, of their concerns.  It is very encouraging to see citizen action making a significant impact."

Among the important changes announced by USDA are:

- The exclusion of chicks sold by hatcheries across state lines from identification requirements; 
- The recognition of brands and tattoos as official forms of identification; 
- The continued use of back tags as an alternative to ear tags for cattle going to slaughter; and 
- The exclusion of beef feeder cattle from this rule, except for rodeo and show cattle.