Monday, August 17, 2015

How dairy producers and livestock sellers can help keep cattle healthy and safe

by Dawn Grummer

Are you a livestock seller or dairy producer selling cattle under the “15-head” livestock inspection exemption?  If you are, there are a few changes you should know about.

The first change is that, beginning  July 1, 2015, WSDA began collecting an Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) fee on all cattle. The 15-head exemption from livestock inspection does not exempt dairy producers or livestock sellers from paying this new ADT fee. In fact, failing to pay the fee can result in a civil penalty of up to $250 per violation or per head.

We were contacted recently by a livestock seller asking for an easy way to track transactions and submit the ADT fee. Working with that seller, WSDA's Animal Disease Traceability Program created an ADT Fee Remittance form  that you can use. This form will make tracking ownership transfers under the “15-head exemption” and the remittance of the ADT fee easy for dairy producers or livestock sellers.

So, how much is this fee? The new rule established an ADT fee of 23 cents per head on all cattle sold or slaughtered in the state or transported out of state. There is a fee of 5 cents per head on all out-of-state cattle that are shipped directly to a federally inspected slaughter facility. 

Normally, a WSDA livestock inspector will collect the fee at the time of inspection. However, right now there is an exemption from the livestock inspection requirements. Commonly known as the “15-head exemption,” it allows individual private sales of unbranded female dairy breed cattle involving 15 head or less to take place without inspection by the WSDA.

The 15-head exemption is going away and will no longer be available as of January 1, 2016. At that time, all cattle will be required to get a livestock inspection or report livestock ownership transfers through an Electronic Cattle Transaction Reporting system (ECTR), once made available by the department.

No one likes to pay a fee. But the ADT fee is about protecting the livestock industry. The money raised through this fee will help support our state's animal disease traceability activities, including maintaining a robust database that can be used in an animal disease outbreak to quickly and accurately locate and quarantine the source of the disease. Having this ability will not only provide assurance to your customers that they are purchasing safe, quality products, but also will provide each of you assurance that in the case of a disease outbreak, the risk of spreading the disease is greatly limited.

Reporting ownership transfers and paying the ADT fee is a vital step in protecting public health and maintaining the economic vitality of our livestock industries. If you want more information on our state's animal disease traceability efforts, email or call our Animal Disease Traceability Program at (360) 725-5493 or (360) 902-1987.