New website assists with interstate livestock transportationWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Moving livestock across state lines can be confusing when it comes to regulations and requirements, but a new website has been created to help sort through the information.
“It was a collaborative effort. The goal was to come up with an open website where anyone could go to look up transportation requirements,” remarks Chelsea Good, vice president of government and industry affairs at the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA).
A group of organizations came together to develop a solution, realizing that recurring conversations were focused on the confusion of transporting livestock, especially with different state rules and federal rules such as those concerning traceability, allowing state veterinarians to make many of their own decisions. The United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) and the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) collaborated on the project, incorporating support from USDA, as well.
Upon the completion of a competitive bid process, a website contracting company known as Trace First was recruited to collect data and create one central website with transport information for all 50 states.
“Trace First went through a process where they talked with state veterinarians, did research and compiled information into one place. Also, it’s not just that all the information is there. It’s readable at the consumer, producer or veterinarian level. People don’t have to be attorneys to understand what is needed to move livestock,” Good explains.
Trace First worked closely with state veterinarians to determine regulations for each state and continues to work with them to keep the information updated.
Using the website
Anyone interested in moving livestock across state lines can visit interstatelivestock.com, answer a series of questions and get a list of requirements for transport. The questionnaire gathers data such as what species of animals are being transported, the age and gender of those animals and what states they are being moved into and out of.
“After we answer all of the questions, we get a very specific list of what we need to do. For example, it says if we need to call a certain number to get a movement permit or get a health certificate from a veterinarian,” she says.
Changing regulations is a process that takes time, but keeping track of all 50 states can be challenging, as there are usually at least a few changes nationally each year.
“We’re always seeing different states analyzing and making adjustments to their own requirements based on new diseases, changes in technology, changes in disease incidents and other things,” Good comments.
Good also notes that results from the website shouldn’t be used like a book that is printed off and put on the shelf for reference for the next 10 years.
“What’s great about it being an electronic resource is that we can keep going back to it, going through the questions and finding current answers. The sheet we end up with also has the date on it, so we know the requirements are current as of today for a particular situation,” she explains.
Having all of the information in one place makes it more accessible to producers, as well as market professionals throughout the U.S.
“A lot of times, markets have regular states they ship a lot of cattle to, and they are familiar with the requirements of those states. However, sometimes buyers show up from a state that market doesn’t usually ship to. In those situations, the markets and their veterinarians need to quickly figure out what is required for the livestock to be moved,” she notes as an example.
In some cases, sales, such as big bull sales, are held on weekend dates, when state veterinarians are unavailable to answer questions.
Differences between states
“One of the things that’s difficult and that states are working on right now is the variety in regulations,” Good adds.
Testing for trichomoniasis, for example, requires different kinds of tests in different states.
“Sometimes, producers are not always aware of what the requirements are,” she says. “It can be a surprise that there is so much variety in the differences in requirements, depending on where livestock are going.”
The new website was launched last fall, and Good encourages people to visit and try it out.
“A lot of hard work went into this project,” she states, noting that USDA is providing some of the funding and a lot of cooperation has come from state veterinarians, Trace First, USAHA and NIAA.