The comment period is still open on animal traceability, and I’ve finally decided I’m for it. I’m all in. It has not been easy for me. I am distrustful of government programs. I would rather see it done by the industry. It could be. It won’t.
There are several reasons I think it will be worth the little bit of extra trouble and expense of individually tracking cattle. One is that it should allow the industry to do a better job of protecting ownership. I want to be required to put an EID button and a matching tattoo on every animal I own. I want it to be a requirement for me to sell cattle.
The rustlers and rascals among us would hate it.
Yes, yes, I know. Brands are all you think we need. Maybe where you live. Not where I live. I’m in Texas. You can register my brand in the adjoining county if you want to.
Jay O’Brien broached the topic during a panel at Texas Cattle Feeders Association convention a few days ago. He suggested that individual ID could serve like a Vehicle Identification Number on a vehicle. He wonders, as do I, why ag bankers aren’t pushing the concept. Here, from this morning's Amarillo Globe News, is a story with which I am a bit familiar, that offers a reason they should: Man gets 9 years for bank fraud.
By the reckoning of O’Brien and me, the Happy State Bank would still be happy if they had been able to access a national registry that showed the cattle they were loaning money against didn’t belong to the young man they were loaning money to.
And, from earlier this week, is this one from USA Today with the same story we see every time cattle prices get high. People steal cattle and sell them: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-11-09/livestock-theft/51136118/1?csp=34news.
It would be nice if cattle thieves could still be hanged, but I don’t see that coming back. So what’s to keep a guy from backing a gooseneck up to my pens and loading, say, $10,000 worth of springing heifers? I mean that’s a pretty nice night’s wages.
If I had a “VIN” on each of them and buyers were required to keep those numbers. I’d have more protection AND a way to know where the cattle went.
I know lots of cattlemen disagree. But I don’t understand why.