Advocacy in action
Animal Disease Traceability becomes law

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture has published the final rule regulating the traceability standards for livestock moving interstate. Swine veterinarians and producers have long supported efforts to enhance the ability of state and federal animal-health officials to identify premises housing livestock and trace animal movements. These objectives are part of routine production in the swine industry and are integral to efficient disease surveillance and control.

The current rule was initially proposed and opened for public comment in August 2011 following years of discussion and failed proposals. The new rules require that, unless specifically exempt, all livestock covered under the rule, moving interstate, would have to be identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection (ICVI). These regulations will not have a dramatic effect on swine producers since we have been required to identify animals in interstate transit since the late 1980s as part of the pseudorabies eradication program.

The traceability standards outlined in this rule are a series of compromises that provide at least a starting point from which to build an efficient and robust Animal Disease Traceability system. There are significant gaps (eg, cattle less than 18 months of age do not have to be identified) which still need to be addressed, and some compromises (eg, recognizing multiple forms of identification as “official” and allowing different standards for premises identifiers) make the system less uniform and thus more challenging from a data-management standpoint. The vast majority of compromises were to accommodate the challenges associated with the beef-cattle industry. The swine industry was already largely compliant with the goals of the traceability effort and, as a result, the rule refers swine producers to existing federal regulations (9 CFR 71.19 and pseudorabies regulations in part 85) for guidance on the specifics of swine traceability.

The US pork industry developed the Swine ID Plan ( to outline swine-specific animal identification and traceability standards. The basis of the Swine ID Plan is the Premises Identification Number or PIN. A producer must have a PIN to participate in the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which is required by most pork processors. As a result, the vast majority of swine producers have registered their premises. This PIN identifier should be included on all official forms, including ICVIs and submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories, as well as market shipments.

One of the key impacts on veterinarians involves the issuance of ICVIs. While the basic requirements did not change much, veterinarians should be aware of what constitutes “official” identification and that animals moving interstate (unless exempt) must be accompanied by either an ICVI or other movement documentation as agreed to by both the shipping and receiving state animal-health officials.

The regulations governing the issuance of official movement documentation are as follows:

(a) The ICVI must show the species of animals covered by the ICVI; the number of animals covered by the ICVI; the purpose for which the animals are to be moved; the address at which the animals were loaded for interstate movement; the address to which the animals are destined; and the names of the consignor and the consignee and their addresses if different from the address at which the animals were loaded or the address to which the animals are destined. Additionally, unless the species-specific requirements for ICVIs provide an exception, the ICVI must list the official identification number of each animal, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this definition (below), or group of animals moved that is required to be officially identified, or, if an alternative form of identification has been agreed upon by the sending and receiving states, the ICVI must include a record of that identification. If animals moving under a group/lot identification number (GIN) also have individual official identification, only the GIN must be listed on the ICVI. An ICVI may not be issued for any animal that is not officially identified if official identification is required.

If the animals are not required by the regulations to be officially identified, the ICVI must state the exemption that applies (eg, the cattle and bison do not belong to one of the classes of cattle and bison to which the official identification requirements of this part apply). If the animals are required to be officially identified but the identification number does not have to be recorded on the ICVI, the ICVI must state that all animals to be moved under the ICVI are officially identified.

(b) As an alternative to typing or writing individual animal identification on an ICVI, if agreed to by the receiving state or tribe, another document may be used to provide this information, but only under the following conditions:

(1) The document must be a state form or APHIS form that requires individual identification of animals or a printout of official identification numbers generated by computer or other means;

(2) A legible copy of the document must be stapled to the original and each copy of the ICVI;

(3) Each copy of the document must identify each animal to be moved with the ICVI, but any information pertaining to other animals, and any unused space on the document for recording animal identification, must be crossed out in ink; and

(4) The following information must be written in ink in the identification column on the original and each copy of the ICVI and must be circled or boxed, also in ink, so that no additional information can be added:

(i) The name of the document; and

(ii) Either the unique serial number on the document or, if the document is not imprinted with a serial number, both the name of the person who prepared the document and the date the document was signed.

Additionally, the veterinarian issuing an ICVI or other document required for the interstate movement of animals must forward a copy of the ICVI or other document to the state or tribal animal-health official of the state or tribe of origin within 7 calendar days from the date on which the ICVI or other document is issued. The state or tribal animal-health official in the state or tribe of origin must forward a copy of the ICVI or other document to the state or tribal animal-health official the state or tribe of destination within 7 calendar days from date on which the ICVI or other document is received.

The animal-health official or accredited veterinarian issuing or receiving an ICVI or other interstate movement document must keep a copy of the ICVI or alternate documentation. For poultry and swine, such documents must be kept for at least 2 years, and for cattle and bison, sheep and goats, cervids, and equines, 5 years.

It has been a long road for USDA and it is gratifying to see this final rule published. While not perfect, it is certainly a step in the right direction to enhance our ability to respond to a disease outbreak and provide the level of traceability expected by consumers and necessary for continued access to international markets. The US pork industry has led the way on the issue of traceability and remains committed to the implementation of a nationally standardized animal identification and traceability system that promotes animal health, disease surveillance, and enhanced pre-harvest traceability.

The final rule in its entirety can be found under the Advocacy tab on the AASV Web site (