retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has “proposed a new, mandatory system Tuesday for tracking cattle, poultry and other farm animals to pinpoint the origin of diseases that can spread through herds and halt exports.

“Ranchers and farmers under the rules would be required to affix a unique identification number to animals transferred between states or tribal areas. The tracking system would allow federal officials to more quickly find the source of an outbreak and isolate the diseased animals, reducing the economic and public-health impacts, the USDA said.”

According to the story, “Trade groups for producers and meatpackers showed initial support for the new program. Yet some ranchers feared the rules would be too costly, increase potential liabilities and threaten current practices such as the hot-iron branding of animals.” And, the story continues, “The proposal would replace a seven-year-old voluntary program that has failed to entice broad participation from producers. Some beef ranchers and small farmers have spurned the program with a variety of complaints, from higher expenses to privacy. R-Calf USA, a group representing producers of calves, said the rules were too invasive.

“The group also was critical of the new program, releasing a statement that voiced concern about how the proposed rule would shift them away from hot-iron branding in favor of ear tags.”
KC's View:
It is about time.

Voluntary efforts didn’t work as well as they should have; if they had, government “invasiveness” would not have been necessary. Furthermore, the highest possible degree of traceability is required to be successful and competitive in a 21st century global environment.

Finally, I find it hard to get behind any objection that is keyed to the fact that we’d rather use a hot brand on an animal than piece of modern technology.