APHIS Addresses Issues with Scrapie Tags
February 15, 2019

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Administrator Kevin Shea said on Thursday that the agency will commit to providing some plastic scrapie tags in fiscal years 2019 and 2020. This was in response to industry concerns after the agency decided in the past year to provide only metal tags free of charge.

"Concerning the issue of plastic tags, we support the proposal outlined during our discussions with industry leadership at the annual United States Animal Health Association meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, last October. Through the rest of fiscal year (FY) 2019, our agency will provide, free of charge, up to 80 plastic tags, printed with flock identification numbers, to goat and sheep producers requesting tags for sheep or goats for the first time." Shea wrote. "Based on industry estimates, we expect to spend about $300,000 in FY 2019 for these plastic tags and will also provide metal serial tags to markets and dealers at a cost not to exceed $100,000. In FY 2020, we will provide both plastic and metal tags at an estimated total cost of $300,000, using the same distribution policy as in FY 2019. As agreed, producers and markets will be responsible for purchasing their own tag applicators."

Shea went on to write that the agency wants to see the industry embrace technology in this area.

"Our agency looks forward to working with you to help the sheep and goat industry move toward electronic identification, which is critical for modernizing our current ADI system and ensuring we can quickly trace exposed and diseased animals in the event of an outbreak. That partnership over the next two years is crucial if we are to build support for this change throughout the sheep and goat industry. Also, we will appreciate your efforts to research the requirements for an electronic tag that can best meet your producers' needs."

The American Sheep Industry Association is encouraged by APHIS' response on this issue and looks forward to continuing to work with the agency to eradicate scrapie from the United States.