MILWAUKEE (April 17, 2013)—The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched a new livestock identification program to help agriculture officials quickly track livestock in cases of disease.
It replaces an earlier, voluntary program that failed because of widespread opposition from farmers and ranchers who described it as a costly hassle that didn't help control disease.
The new program is mandatory, but more limited in scope.
It applies only to animals being shipped across state lines and gives states flexibility in deciding how animals will be identified.
Abby Yigzaw, a spokeswoman for the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the program is important because it lets officials quickly identify animals that must be quarantined, and that means healthy ones can keep going to processing facilities without an interruption in the food supply.