NOBULL: USDA to recognize brands as animal identification

For immediate release: December 20, 2012

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Gilles Stockton, (406) 366-4463, or Kevin Dowling, (406) 252-9672

Farm and Consumer Organizations Welcome Changes in

USDA’s Final Animal ID Rule

Brands will be accepted as identification

Billings, Mont. – Organizations representing family farmers, ranchers, and consumers from across the country express cautious optimism about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) announcement today of its final Animal Disease Traceability rule.

More than 60 organizations had expressed concerns about the costs and impracticality of the proposed ADT rule as 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:

· Recognition of brands and tattoos as official forms of identification;

· Continued use of back tags as an alternative to ear tags for cattle going to slaughter;

· Exclusion of beef feeder cattle from this rule, except for rodeo and show cattle, and

· Exclusion of chicks sold by hatcheries across state lines from identification requirements.

“We are very pleased that the western cattlemen’s concerns about recognizing brands and exempting feeder cattle were listened to. Ear tagging feeder cattle would impose significant burdens on farmers and ranchers,” noted Gilles Stockton, a Montana rancher and member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils. “With the USDA pledging to address feeder cattle in a separate rule rather than including it in this one, we will be better able address the complicated issues.”

Over the next several weeks, policy experts from the organizations will analyze the details of the 145-page document to determine the impact the final rule will have on the family farmers and ranchers. USDA states that the rule will be published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2012, and will be made effective 60 days later on February 26, 2013.

“We need to review the actual language of the rule, of course, but based on the information released today, it looks like USDA has listened to several key concerns raised by numerous groups throughout the process,” stated Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA.

For more information, contact:

Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, 512-484-8821

Bill Bullard, R-CALF USA, 406-252-2516

Gilles Stockton, Western Organization of Resource Councils, 406-366-4463

Kathy Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition, 202-543-5675

Patty Lovera, Food and Water Watch, 202-683-2465