The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued its final ruling regarding electronic identification (e-ID) tags on April 26, requiring these tags as a way to increase disease traceability.

George abby
Editor / Progressive Cattle

Effective Nov. 5 (180 days after the USDA published the final rule on May 9), this rule will require the following cattle and bison to have eartags that are readable both visually and electronically when crossing state lines:

  1. Sexually intact cattle and bison 18 months of age or older
  2. Dairy cattle
  3. Cattle and bison of any age used for rodeo or recreation events, shows or exhibitions

Another traceability bill in Congress

The issue of livestock traceability continues to be controversial. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) introduced a bill to Congress on May 8 to counteract the USDA’s final rule. The bill states, “The secretary of agriculture shall not implement any rule or regulation requiring the mandatory use of electronic identification eartags on cattle or bison.” The goal of his bill is to reduce government overreach and allow producers to use e-ID tags if they choose to do so voluntarily.

This proposal and any other legal challenges to come may change the outcome of the USDA’s ruling, however, it is unlikely that it will happen before the Nov. 5 effective date – only time will tell.

The goal is traceability

The USDA final traceability rule amends a previous 2013 rule, which cattle producers already comply with, which instituted visual ID tags for interstate movement. The new final rule switches producers to e-ID tags, which are easier to read and would yield a faster traceability response during a foreign animal disease outbreak.


Aimed to help in the effort, a provision of $15 million for e-ID tags was passed in the 2024 Consolidated Appropriations Act in March of this year. Producers can go to their state animal health officials and state veterinarians, as they can get e-ID tags from the USDA using the resources secured through the appropriations process. The goal is for producers to not have to dig deeper in their pockets to meet compliance.