Identifying cattle WLSB continues to discuss Wyo traceability
Cody – With a focus on putting together a positive program to serve all producers in Wyoming, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) continued their discussion to develop a Wyoming traceability program for cattle producers.
“I’d like to see us put together a program that works for the state of Wyoming, driven by producers,” said WLSB President Joe Thomas during their June 4 meeting. “We aren’t all going to agree on what it will look like, but I’d like to talk about a program that we can mesh with our computer system to accomplish our goals.”
Thomas and WLSB members looked at a number of options, ultimately deciding to gather more information and proceed with a program that accommodates a wide array of producers.
In the wake of the WLSB’s ongoing computerization project, Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan noted, “We have spent a lot of money in developing the programs we have in Cheyenne, and I think it is vital that we implement something that will mesh with what is being developed to realize the efficiencies we could gain.”
Interim WLSB Director Doug Miyamoto said that ensuring a system can capture information from other states is also vital.
“Part of the project we are working on right now is to prepare the system so it can accept the different kinds of data that comes from other states,” he explained. “I have talked to other states.”
Miyamoto, however, said that many states seem to use different formats.
“We can build anything into the system, but we have to know what the Board wants to do,” he commented.
WLSB members expressed interest in looking at Wyoming’s top trading partners and accommodating those systems to facilitate commerce between states.
Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) President Jim Wilson brought forward concerns about the goals of the program, asking, “Is our goal to identify every animal right now, or only the intact females and bulls?”
While the federal Animal Disease Traceability Rule currently only requires official identification on sexually intact beef 18 months of age and older, as well as all dairy cattle, several members of the public expressed concerns that the rule intends to require further identification in the future.
“In a perfect world, it would be great to capture the data on each individual, but we are trying to integrate the health certificate information and permit information for animals coming into the state and Certificates of Veterinary Inspection so we have a better handle on what goes out and what comes in,” Logan commented.
Thomas suggested beginning with sale barns – perhaps a selection of those facilities within the state – could be a good starting point, since many of Wyoming’s cattle, particularly those requiring identification by the federal rule, pass through sale facilities.
“Sale barns might be a good starting point, and we can worry about getting people in the field later,” he said.
Donna Baldwin-Hunt, board member, commented that she supported the idea of helping to facilitate sale barn compliance with rules, but since the prior meeting, new information has raised concerns about market intentions on a larger scale.
“My opinion is that private industry is going to drive traceability,” she said. “I would like to come up with a solution that advances our technology without slipping a noose around the necks of livestock producers.”
Baldwin-Hunt noted concern with the rule’s intentions to create farm-to-fork traceability that puts more pressure on livestock producers across the nation.
At the same time, Baldwin-Hunt expressed interest in accommodating both those producers interested in using the latest technologies and those more comfortable with using traditional record keeping methods.
In Wyoming, approximately 50 percent of producers are using identification tags with electronic capabilities, said Field Veterinarian Thach Winslow.
Both identification methods offer benefits for producers, depending on their preferences and technological capabilities.
Producers and producer groups noted an aversion to technology based on how their electronic records would be used.
“If 50 percent of people are using RFID tags, we need to find a way that the WLSB can serve them and the other 50 percent who aren’t using electronic data,” WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna said. “Our WSGA policy supports a voluntary systems that is built to recognize and accommodate that diversity.”
“We want a system that takes our existing data and performs in a concise and efficient manner,” Miyamoto commented.
Baldwin-Hunt made a motion that the WLSB supports and funds a program to accommodate electronic information stored in databases, as well as a paper system to accept and store data in a paper form.
“We are in the business of providing a service for all producers of Wyoming,” she said. “I think that will handle all the concerns we have heard today.”
The motion passed, with opposition from board members Kellen Little and Liz Philp.
“This motion will accommodate everyone who wants to use our traditional methods – which is everything we have been doing for years,” said Baldwin-Hunt. “It also includes the new technology.”
As the WLSB moves into further developing a program, more information was necessary to create sideboards for the program.
Board member Pat Cullen suggested that in the future, all information collected on Wyoming producers, included information collected by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, should be held within a Wyoming database.
“We can’t control the information if they have it, and we need to have the capability to know what information is collected and maintained on Wyoming producers,” he said.
Additionally, with information from the Animal Health Unit of the WLSB, the Board asked that a list of what information is collected and where it is held would be useful.
“If we have a list of all the information and everyone who deals with producers, as well as the information on who we have to share information with and who is in control of what information, that would help traceability a whole lot,” said Baldwin-Hunt. “Everyone would know where to go.”
Logan, Miyamoto and each unit of the WLSB was directed to compile that data for the next WLSB meeting, which will be held in late July.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.