The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection service last week released on the Federal Register notice of a new rule to increase the amount of time approved livestock facilities keep records on animals from two years to five years.
APHIS says the changes will allow the agency to better track the prior movements of diseased livestock, "thus providing the opportunity to locate potentially infected or exposed livestock that might otherwise remain unidentified."
Currently, slaughterhouses and rendering establishments – which are separate from "livestock facilities" – are not required to retain records for any length of time per APHIS rules. However, some are required to retain records per Food and Drug Administration regulations.
The rule also requires the operators of slaughterhouses or rendering establishments to sign agreements noting their intent to comply with new regulations. APHIS notes in the register that such agreements are currently required for approved livestock facilities, but not for slaughtering and rendering facilities.
The proposed rule appeared for consideration in July, 2008, yielding only four comments from the public and a rendering organization.
One comment asserted that rules were inconsistent with rules on traceability. The commenter noted that lifespans of poultry and hogs are considerably shorter than cattle, goats, sheep and other larger livestock.
In regards to the comment, APHIS agreed that poultry and swine records would not need to be retained for more than two years, while cattle and other livestock records would be required to be retained the full five years.
APHIS said the rule is not expected to result in "significant costs" for the affected entities. For approved livestock facilities that are already retaining records for two years, and rendering facilities that are adhering to FDA rules, the proposed rule says, the costs will be even lower.
Specifically, APHIS says the rule is in place due to the incubation period of some infectious diseases, such as bovine tuberculosis. It will benefit state and federal health authorities in the event a traceback is required to locate the source herd of an infected animal or animals.
The rule, Recordkeeping for Approved Livestock Facilities and Slaughtering and Rendering Establishments, will become effective June 6, 2013.