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Mad Cow spurs cattle tracking

874 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Runners
this gleaned from,1286,61770,00.html?tw=newsletter_topstories_html

I apologize for the lengthy post, however some people prefer it this way, I rarely post full stories. I feel this is just another way that our way of life is being "herded" toward the Orwellian 1984 albeit already 20 years past that date in the Gregorian calendar. The homesteader will be penalized if they donot tage their animals like i have posted before in my own humble opinion. for a 74 page draft of the governmental plan see


:11 PM Dec. 31, 2003 PT
If there's a bright side to the U.S. mad cow scare, it's that it could speed the nation's move to a centralized system that electronically tracks animals as they move from fields to feed lots to food stores.
Efforts to create a centralized database, which exist in some countries, have been slowed so far by disputes over who would maintain the database and who would bear its cost.

Such a database could let agricultural officials determine within hours where a sick animal came from and where it went -- a crucial step in a disease outbreak or a terrorist assault on the food supply.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Tuesday that the government would speed development of the system, but offered no details.
For now, inspectors often must rely on paper records or a hodgepodge of data maintained by meat producers and breeders. After the recent mad cow discovery in Washington state, officials needed several days to determine where its meat had been sold, and encountered discrepancies in U.S. and Canadian records.
"It's very difficult and probably not possible for them to go to a particular animal and say that animal came from that particular farm," said Leon Thacker, a veterinary pathologist at Purdue University.
Technology stands ready to automate the process.
Radio-frequency identification tags on cattle ears can maintain reams of data about an animal's existence, including its breeding, age, weight and medical history. The tags can be automatically read, sending their data directly to a computer database, by sensors placed at feed lots, slaughterhouses and other points along the chain of livestock ownership.
One company, Optibrand, further tightens the process with retinal scans of cattle to confirm their identity. Optibrand's scans are performed with readers that have global-positioning chips to record the animal's location.
Optibrand, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, announced a five-year deal Tuesday to supply its technology to Swift & Co., a leading meat producer. Swift spokesman Jim Herlihy said the company will use the retinal scans in its feedlots and encourage its suppliers to embrace them as well, to make the entire life of livestock more easily traced.
Another approach is offered by Digital Angel, which makes implantable chips that are used to identify lost dogs and cats and also in some cattle herds. Digital Angel, based in South St. Paul, Minnesota, touts the fact that the chips are unlikely to be lost or damaged.
RFID tags also are considered sturdier and less susceptible to fraud than the plastic, numeric ear tags commonly used now to identify livestock. And because the radio tags or other electronic means can produce detailed information about particular animals, they can help producers of organic or other high-quality beef prove that their meat is worth a higher price.
"The more information you know about the cattle, the more you can get them into the fine retail outlets," said Ken Conway, who directs GeneNet, an alliance of beef producers who use RFID and other high-tech measures to justify higher prices for their high-grade meat.

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But while RFID is widely used in countries such as Australia, the technology has been slow to catch on in the United States.
In fact, David Warren, head of Sebastian, Florida-based eMerge Interactive, which offers RFID-based services to the livestock industry, estimates that the technology is being used on fewer than 2 percent of the nation's livestock.

One huge reason is that the industry, which operates on a low profit margin, is reluctant to embrace costly new technology.
Two Kansas State University professors recently estimated that RFID tags and related equipment could cost owners of small herds close to $25 per head of cattle; in larger herds it would cost less than $4.
But the cost will likely drop further with wider RFID use. In Canada, where the beef industry maintains a centralized cattle database, RFID tags are due to replace by Jan. 1, 2005, the current, time-consuming record-keeping method -- bar codes that must be read by handheld scanners.
Julie Stitt, administrator of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, estimates that the per-head cost could fall below $2 -- "not a whole lot more than bar codes."
Even before the U.S. mad cow scare, government and industry representatives were developing the Animal Identification Plan, a nationwide tracking system that was expected to be implemented over the next three years.
It has not been determined whether RFID or any other technology will be mandatory.
Resistance to the plan has come from meat producers who don't trust the idea of establishing a central database that would allow the government or rivals to know detailed information about their operations. In other countries affected by mad cow, such concerns were trumped by fears that consumers would lose confidence in beef, and stringent national ID systems imposed.
In Britain, which was hit by mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease in the 1980s and '90s, every cow gets an individual identity number and its own checkbook-style "passport" that is checked by the British Cattle Movement Service, a central authority.
British authorities say they believe an electronic ID will probably become compulsory in the next few years.
In Japan, which rushed a livestock-screening and database system into place after the country's first mad cow case in 2001, authorities plan to give consumers "farm-to-fork" traceability of beef by the end of 2004. Cows' 10-digit identification numbers, tagged to their ears, will appear on labels of beef in stores, letting consumers look up data on the animals on the Internet.
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I raise cattle and I'm all for a tracking system. I don't see it as Orwellian at all. It is something that is needed.

Imagine if this had been foot and mouth, a fast moving and easily transmitted disease, rather than BSE? Half the nation's cattle would be infected before they ever traced the first one to the farm.

If, by chance, I had some nasty disease on my farm, I'd rather they were able to to track it to me quickly and erradicate it (yes, I know that could mean the end of my herd) than have a market in chaos and/or dying animals through-out the country.

They should have done this a long time ago and I wish they'd just quit the bickering and get on with it. Ear tags aren't the best in the world, but it's an easy way to start in the right direction.

perhaps I have to long been away from the cattle industry as a producer, and from the sheep industry as a producer, and perhaps i have a distrust of tyrants with a cause to lead the sheeple towards total socialism and the ills that come along with it, the following excerpt is from page 5 of the 74 page pdf file defing the goal of the usaip

To achieve a traceback system that can identify all animals and premises potentially exposed to an animal with a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) within 48 hours after discovery.
Achieving this goal will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of current animal* health
* This Plan currently includes all domestic cattle, bison, swine, sheep, goats, cervids (deer and elk),
equine, poultry, game birds, aquaculture, camelids (llamas, alpacas, etc.), ratites (ostriches, emus,etc)........."

If your herd/flock is registered, but not exposed, and the "Orwellian" jack booted thugs come and say your herd/flock may have been, and must be exterminated without compensation to you, for the protection of the factory farm down the road..... how would that make you feel?

Who is being protected? who will be hurt in the long run? the answer is the consumer will pay for all costs, and the small producer will not be able to compete nor will we be able to raise anything for our own consumption without permission from the state/ federal [communist] authorities. The country which was once a gauranteed republic is that no longer, it has become a socialistic heading towards communistic in a downward spiral of tangled laws. May YHVH have mercy on us.
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I agree with the system too and for the same reason as Jena stated, however I have to say it is potentially one more step towards eradicating our freedoms. Try telling a farmer his herd will be destroyed without compensation, and in some parts you'd have open warfare. That sort of thing is more likely to happen without a registery, as the govt. simply can't afford to conpensate everyone affected. Still you have to register as a producer to get the tags so how far behind that will licensing requirments be? I'd like to think I'd pass no problem, but most homesteaders just starting out might find it difficult. Might not too. My mother says she got her drivers license by literally driving around the block, how much harder is it today? I hear ya Blu3duk! National ID tags are a good idea, but does require vigilance. Hey gun registration was laughable not so long ago, where will it all end? Check out this link for information on Canada's system. At least it's run by the cattle "industry". Certainly the current administrators have my support.
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There is no factory farm down the road. There is no factory farm of cattle anywhere in this, or neighboring, counties. There are hog factories, but the are containment facilities, meaning that they contain their stock and their diseases. IF they told me to eradicate my hogs because of one of them, so be it.

If they eradicate your herd, they compensate you. It might not be do you put a price on years of selective breeding, but they don't leave you high and dry. IF they did....the bank would pay in the long run. They are the ones who "own" my cattle.

Who is being protected? I am. If the industry is wiped out by a disease, then I have no market anyways. If all animals are suspect, then who's going to buy mine? If my animals are diseased, then they ought to be eradicated. If they aren't, but thought to be, I understand that this yet another risk in the farming world.

In a perfect world, farmers would not be so paranoid and would understand that the greater good has to come from personal sacrifice. If I go out today and find one of my cows stumbling about...what would I do? Shoot, shovel and shut up? Perpetuate a problem? Cover it all up and hope that I get away with it? Or call the vet? Calling the vet would probably lead me to financial ruin, but at least I will sleep at night without fears of what I'm doing to the food-eating public.

If you value your cattle more than the people who eat them, you need to find another line of work.

The cattle industry has had a long time to come up with their own system. They have dragged their feet long enough. A kick in the pants from the government will definitely get the ball rolling. Tell me where to get the tags, chips or whatever it is and I'll be first in line to get them.

I realize that I often stand alone on my principles, but in the end, that's all I got anyways. I am not afraid of doing the right thing and I am not afraid of trying to do the right thing, only to have it go very, very wrong. My conscience will be clear.

I am a small producer. Large enough that I depend on my cattle for a living, but small enough that margins are extremely thin. I can compete along with the rest of them, and have been. It is not easy, but I see this as a total asset, not a liability.

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ITS IN THE GOOD BOOK,the cows gets a mark
of the beast to, just like the one they going to cause
us to get, people, for the ones that thinks that is BS
look into it before you call it a lie
seek the truth in all things ,
i'm with you, blu3duk. i have an instinctive dread of tyrants. and it seems like it's human nature to tyrannize so i don't think its a wacko conspiracy-theorist concern. information is how they get you.
It has mixed blessings.

You are going down a country road at night, round a curve and run smack dab into a 1,000 pound solid black steer. No brand or eartags on the critter. All of the people in the area say, "Not my animal". With the eartag system it could quickly be determined who's it was for insurance/liability purposes.

You come home from work, go out to feed your cattle and find them missing. Quick investigation work reveals fresh tire tracks at your loading chute. Likely those cattle may be in a different state heading towards a 'no-questions asked' livestock auction. You alert the proper authorities who send out an alert to all of the livestock markets. Authorities are notified when your cattle come through the identification process.

If you are trying for carcass improvement, it may be possible to go on-line to see how they eventually did at the slaughter house as to grade and yield - even if they had been through a couple of owners between.

Hoof and mouth shows up at a livestock auction in Podunk City. Within hours authorities have traced the movement of it back to the point of last origin in order to start isolation and eradication procedures immediately.

Ken S. in WC TN
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This whole livestock tracking system bothers me. I think we as a nation can keep our products more at a local level and manage problems better than any kind of national system ever could. When hasn't a government managed program cost us multitudes more than they thought it would, outright failed to do what they said it would, and eventually been misused or used for something completely unrelated to it's original intent.

Jena, I think there ought to be an exemption for small producers - espically organic producers, it would be a reasonable concession. Yes, I value my line of work, don't mind the checks and balances - but, everytime a cow throws a calf on mom & pop farm the feds are gonna come roaring in to tag it..? :( Personally, I sleep better at night knowing I can do whatever I want on my homestead that doesn't bother anybody else. That's what I LIKE about Virginia, there are LOTS of independently minded people here, unlike the upper midwest. The idea of a government registration of ANYTHING gets the locals bent. :no:

Ken is probably on track about the mixed blessings, tracking the prices, finding lost cattle, but at what cost? :confused: Next will be price supports (like dairy) for beef producers and with it the restrictions on how much beef a farm can produce. "Sorry, Joe, you got 3 too many steers, we're gonna fine you and pick your 3 biggest - let this be a lesson!" :eek: Or, restrictions on slaughtering for personal use. The justification would be, "We want to prevent the chance of improper slaughter techniques and/or tainted meat enterinng the market place." Again, huge fines - maybe they'd enforce the RICO law and take your whole farm! :eek:

I never thought the mark of the beast applied to animals (little mom) - but, for heavens sake, isn't there a BETTER way of testing than jumping right into registering, marking and tracking every morsel of meat??? I thought this was just a beef thing - nope! They're thinking of eventually tracking EVERYTHING :eek: :( that could be marketed! Abuse and corruption is a natural course for government programs, I'd much rather see this localized and tracked by the beef industry.

Hey, remember OSHA trying to step in and regulate the horse industry in the '70s? It was just a small handful of people that stopped it and started self regulation. Do we really want any kind of government tracking system? I'm definately with blu3duk on this. The thought of non-producers & politically correct politicians "overseeing" any farm scares the **** out of me! :eek:
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