USDA Adopts Animal Disease Traceability Program

In case you hadn’t been made aware of “new” official USDA regulations, here’s a recent release from the American Horse Council regarding identification of horses involved in interstate transportation:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has instituted its Animal Disease Traceability Program (ADTP) to improve its ability to trace livestock, including horses, in the event of a disease outbreak. The new system applies to all livestock moving interstate.

Under the new federal regulations, horses moving interstate must be identified and accompanied by an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI). The new system is built on methods of identification and movement documentation that are already employed in the horse industry, e.g., written descriptions, digital photographs, brands, tattoos, electronic identification methods, and interstate certificates of veterinary inspection. The person or entity responsible for moving the horse interstate must ensure that it has an ICVI or other document required by the new rule.

The ADTP will be administered by the states with federal support. The new rules also apply to movements to and from a Tribal area. In those cases, the Tribal authorities are involved in the system.

The new rule will be effective March 11, 2013. The American Horse Council expects that there will be a transition period during which USDA has suggested it will not enforce the new rule. This is to give livestock owners time to understand the rules and make any changes necessary to comply.

Under the new regulations, horses moving interstate must be (1) identified prior to movement and (2) accompanied by an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI) or other state-approved document. All states now require an ICVI to accompany any horse entering their state. This should make for a smooth transition to the new traceability rule since most horse owners moving their horses interstate for breeding, racing, showing, recreation, etc. should already be in compliance with the provisions in the new rule.

Identification of Horses – Horses that are required to be officially identified under the new rules may be identified by one of the following methods:
•A description sufficient to identify the individual horse including, but not limited to, name, age, breed, color, gender, distinctive markings, and unique and permanent forms of identification, such as brands, tattoos, scars, cowlicks, blemishes, or biometric measurements. In the event that the identity of the horse is in question at the receiving destination, the state animal health official in the state of destination or APHIS representative may determine if the description provided is sufficient; or
•Electronic identification (Animal Identification Number) that complies with ISO 11784/11785; or
•Non-ISO electronic identification injected into the horse on or before March 11, 2014; or
•Digital photographs sufficient to identify the individual horse; or
•A USDA backtag for horses being transported to slaughter as required by the Commercial Transport of Horses to Slaughter regulations.

Exclusions to the new requirements – Horses used as a mode of transportation for travel to another location that return directly to the original location; horses moved from a farm or stable for veterinary treatment that are returned to the same location without change in ownership; horses moved directly from a location in one state through another state to a second location in the original state; or horses moved between shipping and receiving states with another form of identification or documentations as agreed to by the shipping and receiving states or tribes involved in the movement.

The complete text of the new regulations can be found at

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