"Livestock Must Be Tagged in USDA Plan to Trace Mad Cow Disease"

"Most livestock moved across state lines will have to be identified and tracked under a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that aims to rapidly trace diseased animals to their origin."

"Cattle and other animals covered by the regulation will have to be identified by ear marks, tattoos or brands and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection when moved from state to state, the USDA said today in a statement. The tracing will assist investigators who need to quickly discover the origins of cattle with mad cow disease or other ailments along with their herd mates, the USDA said.

“Over the past several years, USDA has listened carefully to America’s farmers and ranchers, working collaboratively to establish a system of tools and safeguards that will help us target when and where animal diseases occur, and help us respond quickly,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release.

A nationwide animal tracing system has been promised since 2003 by the USDA, following the discovery of the country’s first case of mad cow disease, which may lead to dementia and death in humans who eat contaminated meat. The disclosure in April of the first case of mad cow disease in six years -- from a 10-year-old dairy animal in California -- spurred debate about whether to expand tracking of older cattle."

Stephanie Armour reports for Bloomberg December 20, 2012.

Source: Bloomberg, 12/21/2012