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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently issued a statement that it’s suspending plans to phase-in the use of radio-frequency-identification tags for dairy cattle, beef cattle and bison. The service also deleted a factsheet from its website that had featured information about the plan to transition to radio-frequency-identification tags from metal ear tags. USDA in April 2019 had stated it would stop providing free metal tags, although approved vendors would still be allowed to produce official metal tags for one year.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued a statement Oct. 25 that read, “Since the factsheet was posted the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has listened to the livestock industry’s feedback. In light of these comments and current executive-branch policy, the agency believes we should revisit those guidelines.

“Recent executive orders have highlighted the need for transparency and communication on the issues set forth in the factsheet before placing any new requirements on American farmers and ranchers.”

Federal, state and industry animal-disease traceability remains an important objective, the service stated -- “We will take time to reconsider the path forward and then make a new proposal, with ample opportunity for all stakeholders to comment.”

The service added it will encourage use of radio-frequency-identification devices through financial incentives consistent with suggestions it has received from cow-calf producers and others. Visit aphis.usda.gov and search for “APHIS statement on RFID” for more information.

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