Stop Mandatory RFID Tagging for U.S. Cattle!

Action Alert, Legislation

Please help stop Mandatory RFID Tagging for U.S. Cattle!


Last year we signed and sent a joint letter to USDA that was spearheaded by Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance in conjunction with other concerned cattlemen, ranchers and small farmers, urging the agency not to adopt mandatory electronic ID.

In March the USDA was granted 15 million dollars to fund Mandatory ID tagging so they are ramping up again on more control of your food!

The USDA has ignored the protests from the majority of independent farmers, ranchers, cattle owners, and local food consumers and adopted a rule to require electronic identification of adult cattle & bison, and all dairy cattle, crossing state lines.

Mandating electronic ID undermines the goal of promoting a resilient food system: If we want to build resilient, diversified supply chains, the federal government needs to take steps to avoid regulations and policies that are prejudiced against small- and mid-scale producers, such as mandatory electronic Animal ID.

“Government regulations and the bureaucrats that enforce them are like an unquenchable fire: it’s never enough. The philosophy that justifies government marketplace intervention is the problem because it never stops at reasonableness.” –Market Resilience by Joel Salitin

The USDA has been told by numerous stakeholders for over a decade that mandatory electronic Animal ID is a solution in search of a problem, and one that will harm thousands of small farmers and ranchers across the country. The agency is not listening, and it is time for Congress to step in.

The solution is simple: Keep the 2013 Animal Disease Traceability Rule unchanged, allowing farmers and ranchers to identify their animal with traditional, low-tech forms of ID or electronic ID, depending on which works best for their operations.

We have to stop this – and we only have 6 months before the new rule takes effect.

We urge you to take immediate action and voice your opposition to electronic animal ID mandates!

Senator Rounds has introduced a vital one-sentence bill, S.4282 “The Secretary of Agriculture shall not implement any rule or regulation requiring the mandatory use of electronic identification ear tags on cattle or bison.”

Please Take Action Now!

1. Call both of your U.S. Senators and urge them to sign on to Senator Rounds’ bill! Look Up Your U.S. Senators

Sample script: I am calling to ask my Senator to sign on to S. 4282 to stop electronic cattle mandates. I am concerned about this issue because:

-I am a rancher who relies on traditional metal tags;

-I am a small farmer in an isolated area without good access to tagging equipment;

-I am a consumer who wants to support local farmers, not international meatpackers …

whatever it is, in a sentence or two, let them know why you are calling about this

[You can add talking points from below, if you like – but the most important part of your story is as a constituent!]

2. Spread the word: Share this information with your friends, family, and fellow farmers. Encourage them to also call their Senators and voice their opposition to the mandate and their support for S. 4282!

Your action is vital to protect small farmers and ranchers and all those who depend on them for food.


  1. The cost of RFID tags disproportionately burdens small and medium sized independent farmers and ranchers.
  2. The USDA rule allows large, corporate-owned herds to be grouped and tagged as one group, creating a huge loophole that keeps costs low for the companies.
  3. Although USDA claims the rule is about animal health, it does nothing to prevent or treat disease. USDA hasn’t provided any data to show how it will significantly increase traceback – the agency simply assumes electronic systems will be faster, even though the experience in other countries, such as Australia, does not support this.
  4. USDA’ press release focused on the real driver for electronic ID, namely greasing the wheels of the export market. This benefits the big companies, while putting the cost on the farmers.
  5. RFID tags on the live cattle do nothing to increase food safety.

Thank you for your action!!!


“I don’t take my cattle across state lines, why should I care?”

“I don’t even have cattle, I have goats, sheep, horses, pigs, or poultry – why should I care?”

Because this is just the first step back towards an all-encompassing electronic ID mandate. In the early 2000s, USDA proposed a comprehensive plan for birth-to-death electronic tracking of all livestock and poultry animals, known as the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

After years of protests from conventional ranchers, organic farmers, homesteaders, property rights advocates, privacy watchdogs, and local food consumers, the agency withdrew the NAIS plan. In its place, USDA adopted a rule that addressed interstate cattle movements and explicitly provided for a range of types of identification – including low-tech, traditional methods – to be used.

This new rule, which violates that vital recognition of the importance of traditional forms of ID,is not only a problem for the cattle owners it will immediately directly impact – it’s the first stepback to a NAIS-type plan. USDA signaled that in its press release announcing this new rule, trumpeting its benefits for the export market (which will not be satisfied with only tracking interstate movements) and talking about moving to a “modern animal disease traceability system that tracks animals from birth to slaughter.”

Mandatory electronic Animal ID is expensive, intrusive, and unreliable. The plan benefits two groups: the large meatpacking corporations, and the technology companies that produce the electronic tags, readers, and software.

USDA and the meatpackers argue that traceability is about addressing animal disease and food safety. But it’s really about furthering corporate control of the meat industry by creating yet more regulations that promote international trade for the big meatpackers, are cheap for large-scale operations, and burden family farmers.

The vast majority of food-borne illnesses in meat are the result of practices at the slaughterhouse and afterwards in the processing and handling. We have seen millions of pounds of meat recalled due to unsanitary conditions and a lack of proper oversight at huge slaughterhouses. But the animal ID program ends at the slaughterhouse door – RFID tags on cattle won’t do anything to increase food safety.

Nor will RFID tags make our animals healthier. USDA continues to allow imports of livestock from countries with known disease problems. In fact, this electronic ID plan is primarily

designed to maximize corporate profits by promoting exports and imports of animals and meat – further increasing the risk of introducing and spreading diseases.

If USDA wanted to address food safety and animal disease, it would increase oversight and testing at the large meat processing plants; and stop boxed meat and live cattle imports from countries with known disease problems. These two steps would do far more to promote a safe,secure food supply than sticking RFID tags in cows’ ears.

We already have Animal ID requirements that provide for low-tech forms of ID. Traditional metal ear tags cost about 10 cents each, and the USDA provides them to farmers for free. They work and they are cost-effective. In contrast, the agency estimates the cost to farmers for RFID tags will be $2-$2.60 per head for large cattle operations and as much as 7.17 for smaller operations, a significant difference. That doesn’t seem like much, but that translates to sales for the tag manufacturers of tens of millions of dollars each year. The people pushing electronic ID have not provided a scientific basis for replacing the existing ID programs with one that is significantly more expensive and intrusive, and certainly not for the sake of food safety!

For more information on Animal ID, go to Mandatory Animal ID Programs

Other posts that you may like

House Bill 759

House Bill 759

House Bill 759 HB759, that would remove the $3000 gross annual revenue cap for sales of pickles made from a private home without government inspection to be sold only to the end user and was referred out of the Agricultural Subcommittee yesterday with a 9 to 1 vote....

Action – Amendment HB 2123

Action – Amendment HB 2123

YOUR ACTION NEEDED!! Delegate Sally Hudson has proffered an amendment HB 2123, that would remove the $3000 gross sales annual revenue cap for sales of homemade pickles and other acidified vegetables. The Agriculture subcommittee will meet THIS WEDNESDAY January 18th,...