Starting March 11, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials will implement the Animal Disease Traceability Program to improve their ability to trace livestock during a disease outbreak.
The new system applies to all livestock crossing state lines. And while the ADTP’s primary purpose is to track disease outbreaks among cattle, it’s expected to be an important tool in containing equine outbreaks as well.
The ADTP shouldn’t require drastic changes for horse owners, as most states already require a health certificate to travel over state lines. Each horse will need a state-approved identity document prior to movement, such as the commonly used Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI), for interstate travel.
Mid-Atlantic and Southern horse owners have the option of getting an Equine Interstate Event Permit, which is good for six months and includes 15 states from Texas to Virginia, as well as New York.
For horse owners in the western United States, a six-month Equine Certificate of Veterinary Inspection and Interstate Movement Permit is available for travel between the states of Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Washington.
“Basically, instead of it being every state having [an individual health certificate] requirement, the USDA just made it a national requirement. If you’re following the rules now, you won’t have to change too much,” said Ben Pendergrass, legislative director at the American Horse Council. “As with any new legislation, there’s going to be some confusion. The USDA has stated that because they anticipate confusion, and there’s going to be the process of educating people, that they’re not going to really enforce the rule for at least a year so that people have time to understand [it].”
To be properly identified on an ICVI, horses must either have a description (including, but not limited to, name, age, breed, color, gender, distinctive markings, brands, tattoos, scars, cowlicks, blemishes or biometric measurements), an electronic identification (such as a microchip), a non-ISO electronic identification, digital photographs, or a USDA backtag for horses being transported to slaughter.
Your vet can issue an ICVI at roughly the same cost as the traditional 30-day health certificate. In the event of a disease outbreak, these documents will be used to trace horses that have been at the site of the outbreak and the horses that have come into contact with them.
There are a few exclusions to the new rule, such as horses traveling to another state to receive veterinary services then returning to their original location, and horses being used as a mode of transportation to travel to another state then returning to their original location. If a horse travels through another state to a second location in their original state, they won’t need an ICVI either.
According to Oregon state veterinarian Brad LeaMaster, DVM, Ms, PhD, horse shows aren’t required to ask for an ICVI, but horse owners should be prepared to have the proper paperwork in hand. “Out-of-state entry requirements have to be followed, regardless of whether a show asks for the papers or not,” he said.
In Oregon, for example, LeaMaster said that the Oregon Department of Agriculture doesn’t have the adequate personnel to check compliance at every show, but they perform random spot checks throughout the season. The penalties for not complying with the new rule after the grace period will likely be applied on a case-by-case basis, but LeaMaster said that typically, a written or verbal warning will be issued for first-time offenders, and that repeat offenders might be subject to civil penalties.
Because the USDA has given individual states the ability to approve other methods of movement documentation besides an ICVI, such as an owner-shipper statement, Coggins test or brand certificate, it’s best to pick up the phone. “Call the destination state prior to traveling and ask for current import requirements,” recommended LeaMaster.