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Panel: Changes needed for traceability

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Animal disease traceability (ADT) is a federal rule that requires official identification and an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection (ICVI) for certain categories of livestock that travel across state lines. 

The United States Department of Agricultures (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulates ADT. 

During a forum about livestock traceability, a panel discussed some of the challenges and solutions different states have for ADT and traceability.

The rule 

The purpose of ADT is for animal health officials, like state veterinarians, to trace where diseased animals or animals potentially exposed to diseases are, where they have gone and when the animals were infected during a disease outbreak. 

“The primary livestock covered by the ADT rule are cattle, swine, sheep and goats, along with some requirements for horses, as well,” according to Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan. “Everyone who owns livestock is required to abide by ADT rules.”

ADT challenges

In the forum, panelists Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) Representative Tim Starks, Colorado State Veterinarian Keith Roehr and South Dakota State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven explained challenges the ADT rule faces.

According to Starks, the livestock markets are burdened because they have to deal with noncompliance issues for ADT rules, which ultimately should be enforced by USDA.

“Nothing in the rules says the livestock markets are in charge of compliance for producers,” Starks said. “Markets are only responsible for storing livestock ICVIs and other information for five years at a time.”

Another issue with ADT brought up by Roehr is ICVIs and other livestock information are not available electronically between states and databases.

“Currently, ICVI data is stored in multiple state and market databases and one USDA database. In reality, all of the information can’t be stored in just one database,” Roehr said. “As animal health officials, we need to be able to communicate and pull information from manageable systems easily.”

Roehr also said working with livestock producers to find solutions that protect private data and enable the sharing of information when necessary is very important. 


Other challenges discussed involved brands and their limitations on identification and animal health.

“Brand inspections are not health inspections,” stated Oedekoven. “From the perspective of an animal health official, I want an animal health professional to assure incoming animals are not contagious.”

Oedekoven noted brand inspections don’t replace official identification and can magnify the work of sorting through multiple animals during a disease outbreak.

While brands are a source of contention for some people, Montana State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski believes, “Brands are going to remain important. We are going to have to continue to rely on brands for ownership, and they will continue to help us fill the gaps in our traceability system.”


The enforcement of the ADT rule is also a major challenge for health officials, markets and producers across the country, but it is also part of the solution, according to Starks.

“Most state veterinarians and federal regulators don’t have the resources and ability to consistently make sure producers identify their animals and have the proper paperwork,” Starks stated. “Part of the problem comes from the inconsistences between the states in their import and documentation requirements.”

He said USDA is responsible for enforcing ADT rules, and APHIS should focus more on disease traceability for animal health and keep traceability for trade negotiations separate.

“LMA really believes consistent enforcement from USDA will be key to improving ADT,” Starks added.

Making ADT work

Animal health officials are focused on coming together to more efficiently trace, recover and respond to disease outbreaks in livestock, stated Alabama State Veterinarian Tony Frazier.

Frazier mentioned using alternative movement documents (AMD) as a solution to problems health officials have with the ADT rule.

“Using AMDs and travel agreements, certain livestock with the proper documentation can be moved between states with travel agreements,” said Frazier, noting partnering with livestock markets to create and utilize AMDs is also a solution.

“The goal is to provide the information on livestock leaving the states in a format that is compatible with other states, and AMDs can do that,” Frazier added.


According to Starks, only 50 to 60 percent of producers are aware ADT exists or know the purpose behind the rule.

“Education about ADT is one major shortcoming to the rule,” Starks stated. “If we are trying to implement ADT, a rule that regulates the producers’ industry, we’re obligated to make sure producers know about the rule and what it is trying to accomplish.”

Producer education is a major factor in making ADT work, based on Starks’ discussion because he believes, “No program can be successful without buy-in from producers.”

The discussion “Panel – Alternative Movement Documents” was held during on Sept. 26-27, 2017 at the Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability.

Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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