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What Rules Govern RFID's Use for Livestock?
Is there an international standard, or are regulations different from one nation to the next?
Regulations vary widely from country to country. Australia and New Zealand require the use of RFID to track certain types of livestock, in order to protect both consumers and the countries' export of meat and other animal products. A few years ago, Canada responded to a mad cow disease scare by requiring the cattle industry to replace the existing bar-code system with RFID by the end of 2009 (see Canadian Beef Processor Deploys RFID for Food Safety). All cattle leaving Canadian farms of origin now must be fitted with RFID tags. The unique identification numbers on those tags are linked in a database with the movements of each animal until its slaughter or export.
Other nations have instituted mandatory livestock tracking without specifying a technology. Argentina and Brazil, for example, have instituted mandatory identification and tracking programs for cattle, though RFID is not specified. And the European Union has required RFID tags for sheep and goats for disease control purposes. Use of radio frequency identification on cattle was voluntary, but now, under EC1760/2000, it is recommending the mandatory use of RFID since so few used it voluntarily.
In the United States, RFID tracking of cattle has been made mandatory in only one state—Michigan—and that was prompted by the need to keep bovine tuberculosis under control (see Riding Herd: RFID Tracks Livestock). The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) requires animals to be identified uniquely, but does not require RFID tagging (see Farmers Learn to Milk RFID).
I think it is fair to say that the world is moving toward uniquely identifying all farm animals for consumer safety purposes, and that RFID will be the preferred technology in the long run because it is easier and faster to use than having to scan bar codes.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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