National DHIA Supports USDA’s Proposed Move to RFID Ear Tags for All Cattle

National DHIA

USDA has proposed that all cattle moving in interstate shipment must have 840 RFID (-radio frequency radio identification devices) ear tags effective January 1, 2023. Such tags would be the only official tags, replacing the NUES metal ear tags and plastic button tags used currently. The draft rule was posted in the Federal Register on July 6 by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Public comment invited until Oct. 5.

National DHIA (NDHIA) supports this new rule and will be providing supporting comments. Official ID is fundamental to the effective use of DHI records as a management tool and for providing information to the U.S. genetic evaluation system.

NDHIA also supports the USDA position that an effective disease traceability system must be able to track animals from birth to slaughter. It’s the best prevention of a disease outbreak, allowing prompt location to the source of an infection. There are also implications for the export of U.S. dairy and beef products. More countries that import U.S. animal products are moving to require such traceability.

NDHIA urges its member dairy herds and in fact, all producers to support this change.  The organization has been working for the last 20 plus years with industry and government officials for a national ID system for dairy cattle. It supports the “840 tags” which provide a unique 15-digit number for an animal beginning with the 840 digits which is the U.S. country code.

Allen Chester

Allen Chester, NDHIA President and dairy producer from Madrid, N.Y., says, “We are encouraged by this proposed rule from APHIS. Most recently at our annual meeting in March, we unanimously passed a resolution saying we prefer the use of 840 tags, and we’ll be moving to make changes in our Uniform Operating Procedures to take effect January 1, 2023.”

Here are the timelines included in the new rule:

  • Beginning January 1, 2022, USDA would no longer approve vendors to use the official USDA shield in production of metal ear tags or other ear tags that do not have RFID components.
  • On January 1, 2023, 840 Official RFID tags would become the only identification devices approved as an official ear tag for cattle and bison pursuant to § 86.4(a)(1)(i).
  • For cattle and bison that have official USDA metal clip tags in place before January 1, 2023, APHIS would recognize the metal tag as an official identification device for the life of the animal.

To see the complete rule and instructions for filing comments, go to

About National DHIA

The National Dairy Herd Information Association (NDHIA) is a service association for the dairy records industry, serving the best interests of its members and the dairy industry by maintaining the integrity of dairy records and advancing dairy information systems.


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