Support Hageman’s Amendment #78 to H.R. 4368
In March 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), issued a proposed rule mandating electronic identification (EID) ear tags for cattle and bison.
This centralized mandate infringes on the privacy rights of U.S. farmers and ranchers, threatens their livelihood and furthers vertical integration of the beef supply chain for a major industry.
Congresswoman Harriet Hageman’s (R-WY) amendment would prohibit USDA funds from being used to finalize and implement this harmful rule.
The proposed rule
The rule would require all cattle and bison to have ear tags which are electronically and visually readable to access interstate markets. Ear tags that are visually readable are already used.
Under the guise farmers may make a typo, APHIS is pursuing a $26 million per year rule which would require farmers and ranchers to purchase, implement and maintain EID ear tags and the technology and infrastructure to maintain and run them.
Issues the proposed rule creates
1. Privacy: The creation of electronic records and USDA’s proposal to maintain them for five years subjects herds and locations to Freedom of Information Act requests. Not only would the government be tracking producers, environmental groups who attribute livestock to climate change could get this information as well.
2. Mandate: Visually readable ear tags have and continue to work for the American farming and ranching community. If a livestock operation wishes to use EID to enhance their operations, they are welcome to make this business decision but should not be forced to do so.
The cost of purchasing and maintaining this equipment would be placed on the agriculture community.
Further, by the time this equipment is implemented, it will be obsolete, which challenges the merit of the underlying policy, let alone the authority to mandate these tags.
3. Vertical integration: This is another attempt by large industry to further vertical integration of the beef supply chain. Knowing smaller operations will struggle to shoulder the cost and infrastructure to maintain these systems, big packers support this policy because they can lock more competition out of the interstate market.
Hageman’s amendment would prohibit funds from being used to finalize or implement USDA’s proposed rule.
To show support for this amendment, visit hageman.house.gov.
Congresswoman Harriet Hageman is currently serving her first term in Congress as the representative of the state of Wyoming. She can be reached by calling 307-261-6595, 307-829-3299 or 202-225-2311.