USDA APHIS revises animal disease traceability regulations


USDA revised its animal disease traceability regulations to require electronic identification tags for interstate movement of certain cattle and bison to reduce outbreaks.



To expedite location tracking and response time to foreign animal diseases, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is updating its animal disease traceability regulations for certain cattle and bison. The strengthened rule, an amendment to the original, which was instituted in 2013, will mandate that certain cattle and bison being moved between states receive electronic identification (EID) tags. The final rule will require official ear tags to be visually and electronically readable. It also includes revisions to record requirements related to cattle.1

The revised rule is an update to the 2013 rule, which requires sexually intact cattle and bison 18 months of age or older, dairy cattle, rodeo and exhibition cattle or bison, and cattle or bison of any age used for shows or exhibitions, to have an official form of animal identification, originally solely visual ID tags.1,2

With the new technology-based modification, part of the goal is to reduce disease outbreaks by making animals more easily traceable, limiting the time it takes to track them and therefore better containing the outbreak.1 “Rapid traceability in a disease outbreak will not only limit how long farms are quarantined, keep more animals from getting sick, and help ranchers and farmers get back to selling their products more quickly – but will help keep our markets open,” said Michael Watson, PhD, APHIS administrator, in an organizational release.1

Although the new EID tag requirement is geared toward farmers and ranchers, it will also significantly benefit the United States’ foreign markets. Improving the US' capacity to contain the impact of animal disease outbreaks to certain regions is crucial for preserving international markets. EID tags will give the US the ability to swiftly demonstrate disease-free status in non-affected parts of the country, allowing the US to request that foreign trading partners recognize disease-free regions, thereby avoiding trade bans on the entire nation.1 According to the USDA, animal traceability is essential for establishing these disease-free zones and facilitating a quick reestablishment of foreign and domestic markets following an animal disease event.1

The updated rule, whose announcement was made on April 26, 2024, will become effective 180 days succeeding its publication in the Federal Register. With the aim of jumpstarting efforts to allow for the quickest response to foreign animal disease, the USDA will continue providing free tags to producers.1 More information on how to access these tags can be found on the APHIS Animal Disease Traceability website.


  1. APHIS bolsters animal disease traceability in the United States. News release. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. April 26, 2024. Accessed May 24, 2024.
  2. APHIS finalizes rule requiring electronic ID tags for certain cattle, bison. News release. American Veterinary Medical Association. May 22, 2024. Accessed May 24, 2024.
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