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Correction and Clarification Regarding USDA’s Proposed Rule for Mandatory Animal Identification  

August 9, 2011 Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA issued a news release earlier today to express its strong opposition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS’) proposed rule for mandatory animal identification. In that release, R-CALF USA argued the proposed rule is overreach, intrusive, and constitutes a spurning of cattle industry recommendations. 

At the heart of R-CALF USA’s opposition is APHIS’ inclusion of younger cattle under APHIS’ mandatory identification plan and the delisting of the industry’s hot-iron brand as an official animal identification device. 

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard advised R-CALF USA President George Chambers that the proposed rule continued to recognize the hot-iron brand as an effective means of identifying horses in interstate commerce and Chambers used that information to demonstrate there was no need for USDA to delist the hot-iron brand for cattle.

“My initial interpretation of the proposed rule, and what we included in our previous news release, was that the proposed rule expressly allows producers to use hot-iron brands on their horses when shipping across state lines and that APHIS was proposing to require the 36 non-brand program states to accept a registered horse brand originating from the 14 brand program states as an official identification device. My interpretation needs to be both corrected and clarified,” Bullard said. 

Bullard explained that his interpretation that producers would be allowed to rely on their horse brands for interstate movement was wrong.  

“The proposed rule expressly authorizes an APHIS representative to approve a producer’s use of a brand certificate to meet APHIS’ requirement to be officially identified for interstate movement, but that approval is discretionary on the part of APHIS, not a right conferred to the producer.   

“The proposed rule would, therefore, authorize APHIS to require the 36 non-brand program states to accept a typical brand certificate that would describe a horse’s brand, but it does not expressly require APHIS to do so,” said Bullard. 

“While this clarification and correction does not change our strong opposition to the proposed rule, we certainly don’t want to make unsubstantiated claims about what the proposed rule would and would not do.  That’s why we are issuing this correction and clarification,” Chambers concluded. 

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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 46 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com  or, call 406-252-2516.   

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                            This page was last updated on Wednesday, October 12, 2011.