Ranchers taking cattle to Canada will have to meet new restrictions
November 10, 2017
Breeding cattle being exported into Canada will sport a new ear tag with radio frequency capabilities starting Feb. 1, 2018. A new ruling issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will require U.S. cattlemen exporting dairy or beef breeding cattle into the country to identify these animals with an NAIS-compliant 840 Radio Frequency tag, and a tattoo. These tags will be mandatory, beginning Feb. 1, 2018.
The 840 AIN ear tags with Radio Frequency Identification technology will replace the metal USDA tags previously used to identify breeding cattle from the U.S. "Previously, all breeding cattle exported to Canada were identified with both a USDA metal ear tag and a USA tattoo," according to Donna Karlsons, who is a public affairs specialist with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The new program will eliminate duplicity, Karlsons said. "All cattle in Canada have been required to be identified with approved RFID tags since 2010," she said. "For U.S. exporters of breeding cattle, this will eliminate the need for re-tagging animals after their arrival in Canada."
Because it is a Canadian regulation, it will be up to their government to enforce it, Karlsons said. "If breeding cattle arrive at the border without RFID tags on or after Feb. 1, 2018, the Canadian government will deny entry in Canada."
For cattle breeders who sell breeding stock to Canadian buyers, Karlsons said they should update themselves on the new regulations. "We always recommend that breeders who have international buyers at their sales be aware of export requirements that other countries may have, including identification requirements, along with other animal health requirements such as specific tests or certification," she said.
Even breeding cattle traveling to the country for shows need to be tagged under this new system. "All breeding cattle that enter Canada, for whatever reason, must meet Canada's animal health import requirements, including identification requirements," she said.
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The RFID transponder is encased in the visual tag. The tag must have a 15 digit AIN number printed on the part of the tag containing the transponder, and the number must start with 840. These tags are considered official USDA ear tags, are tamper-proof, and designed for one-time use.
According to the USDA/APHIS website, the official ear tag must also have the text "unlawful to remove" printed on the other piece of the ear tag. It is recommended the AIN RFID ear tags be placed in the left ear, so they don't interfere with the tattoo typically placed in the right ear.
The website also warns producers against selling, loaning or giving these preprinted tags they have purchased to other producers, since all AIN tags are recorded as being distributed to each producer using the location identification system used by their state.
This requirement is the next step in a process designed to better monitor brucellosis testing. On Sept. 1, 2017, Canada implemented a new regulation requiring U.S. cattlemen to test their breeding cattle for brucellosis using the FPA test, the Buffered Acidified Plate Antigen test, or the Competitive Elisa test. The Standard Tube Test and the Standard Plate Test are no longer acceptable methods of testing for brucellosis, and will no longer be accepted by the CFIA.
The USDA/APHIS website has a listing of approved merchants to purchase the official tags from. The merchants offer a variety of colors and sizes, as well as the ability to pre-print the tags according to the producers recordkeeping system. More information about this new regulation can be found at:
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability/downloads/ADT_device_ain.pdf. To obtain these ear tags, see: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability/downloads/AIN_device_list.pdf for more information. ❖
— Clark is a freelance livestock journalist from western Nebraska. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.