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Weekly Digest: USDA suspends livestock RFID plan

Progressive Dairy Editor Dave Natzke Published on 30 October 2019

Digest Highlights

USDA suspends livestock RFID plan

The USDA has halted a proposed timeline phasing in Animal Disease Traceability Act (ADT) eartag requirements.



Last April, the USDA released a schedule that would have transitioned to mandatory radio-frequency identification (RFID) eartags for all adult reproducing beef animals and dairy animals of any age, by 2023. (Read: Weekly Digest: Timeline set for RFID traceability program)

In a statement released Oct. 25, the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said the agency would revisit the guidelines and removed a “factsheet” describing the plan from its website. The statement said the factsheet no longer represented current ag policy, citing livestock industry feedback and executive orders from President Trump seeking to limit any new requirements on American farmers and ranchers.

According to APHIS: “While the need to advance a robust joint Federal-State-Industry Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) capability remains an important USDA-APHIS objective, we will take the time to reconsider the path forward and then make a new proposal, with ample opportunity for all stakeholders to comment.”

While the agency puts mandatory steps on hold, the statement said APHIS still believes RFID devices provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases. As the agency reconsiders whether or not to put new requirements in place, it will encourage the use of RFID devices through financial incentives.

Earlier in October, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) filed a lawsuit seeking to block implementation of the USDA rule.


Animal activists may be posing as Census employees

The Georgia Agribusiness Council (GAC) is warning all livestock producers to be aware that animal rights advocates may be masquerading as U.S. Census takers in an attempt to take photos of farming operations.

According to GAC, attempts have been made to enter poultry operations in Georgia, Indiana and Oklahoma.

In the Georgia Milk Producers’ recent newsletter, Farrah Newberry, executive director, provided information links and tips from the Animal Agriculture Alliance on how to verify if an individual is a Census Bureau employee:

  • The field representative will present an ID badge that includes: Their name, their photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.

  • A field representative will be carrying an official bag with the Census Bureau logo or a laptop for conducting the survey.

  • The field representative will provide you with a letter from the Census Bureau on official letterhead stating why they are visiting your residence.

  • Field representatives conduct their work between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., local time.

  • Upon request, the field representative will provide you with their supervisor’s contact information and/or the phone number for your Census Bureau Regional Office. The regional office supervises the activities of all field representatives in your area.

  • To independently confirm that the person is a Census Bureau employee, you can enter their name in the Census Bureau’s staff search website or contact the Regional Office for your state.

12 named to National Dairy Board

Twelve dairy farmers have been named to three-year terms on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB). Their terms run Nov. 1, 2019, through Oct. 31, 2022.

Newly appointed members are: Justin Leyendekker and Stephen Weststeyn, California (Region 2); Nathaniel Moroney, Texas (Region 4); James Reid, Michigan (Region 9); and Joanna Shipp, Virginia (Region 10).

Reappointed members are: Stephen Maddox, Michael Oosten and Arlene VanderEyk, California (Region 2); Manuel Caballero, Arizona (Region 3); Connie Seefeldt, Wisconsin (Region 6); Jennifer Heltzel, Pennsylvania (Region 11); and Bret Bossard, New York (Region 12).


The NDB is composed of 37 members: 36 members represent 12 geographic regions within the U.S., and one member represents importers. They develop and administer advertising and promotion programs designed to increase the demand for dairy products and ingredients. Activities are financed by a mandatory 15-cent-per-hundredweight assessment on milk for commercial use and 7.5-cent-per-hundredweight assessment on milk imported.

FSA county committee elections set to begin

The USDA will begin mailing Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committee election ballots to eligible farmers, Nov. 4. To be counted, ballots must be returned to the local FSA county office or postmarked by Dec. 2.

Each county committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2020. County committee members help FSA make decisions on commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, and emergency programs and eligibility.

Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Producers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote.

Producers can find out if their local administrative area is up for election and if they are eligible to vote by contacting their local FSA county office. Eligible voters who did not receive a ballot in the mail can pick one up at their local FSA county office.  end mark

Dave Natzke
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