CattleTrace participants meet with USDA Under Secretary Ibach

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach was welcomed to Great Bend, Kansas, recently by beef industry leaders participating in the CattleTrace pilot project for disease traceability. USDA is a partner in the pilot project that will develop and test an end-to-end disease traceability system.

Approximately 40 producer participants, including ranchers, livestock markets, cattle feeders and packers, as well as other CattleTrace partners, participated in the meeting that provided an update on the pilot project as well as allowed for discussion about disease traceability priorities at USDA. CattleTrace is being implemented by a cooperative public-private partnership including the Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas State University, Kansas Department of Agriculture, USDA and private producers.

“Without the partnership from beef producers across the state, CattleTrace wouldn’t have gotten off the ground. It is exciting to see enthusiasm from producers who are willing to step up and help lead the development of a disease traceability system that can work in and for our industry,” said Brandon Depenbusch, CattleTrace, Inc., Board of Directors chairman. “USDA is an important partner in CattleTrace and plays an integral role in disease traceability across the country. We are grateful that Under Secretary Ibach traveled to Kansas to meet with CattleTrace participants and share his vision for disease traceability.”

CattleTrace was launched in late June 2018 and will conclude in spring 2020. During the pilot, 55,000 Kansas-based calves will be tagged with an ultra-high frequency ear tag. As the calves move through the supply chain, minimal data, including an individual animal identification number, GPS location, and the date and time, will be captured and maintained in a secure, third-party database. The CattleTrace team will use the database to conduct mock traces to test the infrastructure in order to determine its effectiveness in tracing animal movements in the event of a disease outbreak.

Depenbusch noted that more than 31,500 tags have been distributed and the rest will be distributed in the coming months. He also highlighted tag readers are installed at all partner feedyards and livestock markets.

In September 2018, USDA outlined four overarching goals for advancing animal disease traceability. USDA will begin implementing the traceability goals starting in fiscal year 2019. CattleTrace will be playing an important role in USDA’s traceability initiatives. Each of the USDA goals aligns with the basic infrastructure and implementation protocol of the CattleTrace Pilot Project.

“The landscape surrounding animal disease traceability has changed dramatically in the past decade, and producers across the nation recognize that a comprehensive system is the best protection against a devastating disease outbreak like foot-and-mouth disease,” Ibach said in September. “We have a responsibility to these producers and American agriculture as a whole to make animal disease traceability what it should be—a modern system that tracks animals from birth to slaughter using affordable technology that allows USDA to quickly trace sick and exposed animals to stop disease spread.”

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