USDA’s new chief veterinarian talks traceability

cattle grazing-southwest iowaThe newly-appointed chief veterinarian at USDA says executing all aspects of the agency’s animal disease traceability (ADT) program is one of his top priorities.

Dr. Jack Shere, USDA-APHIS deputy administrator for veterinary services, says it’s time to close the gaps that exist in ADT.  One of those, Shere says, is feeder cattle.

“We’ve got to get the cattle industry to get us over the hump,” Shere says. “If they want to trade in these international markets, they’re going to have to identify some of these feeder cattle that are going to be in the trading channels.”

Shere says that’s a key step in resuming beef sales to China.

“They (the Chinese) are requiring that we can identify where the animals were first born—with a tag—and trace them at slaughter back to their herd of origin, or their birthplace,” he says.

Shere acknowledges that the ADT effort has had its share of controversy.

“There’s always been a struggle among the industry and the states and the federal government about what should be in the program,” Shere says. “We need to work together because if we’re going to have access to the markets, we’ve got to have a uniform program that we can demonstrate—from an audit fashion—to these international folks when they come in, that we have a traceability program. Otherwise, we’ll be excluded.”

Shere spoke with Brownfield at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture conference in Kansas City.

AUDIO: Dr. Jack Shere

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