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RFID by 2023

BILLINGS, MT | There’s nothing wrong with using radio frequency identification or RFID eartags. Let me repeat that: There’s nothing wrong with using RFID eartags. Many R-CALF USA members participate in value added programs where the use of RFID eartags seems prudent, including the non-hormone treated cattle or NHTC program where the resultant beef is exported to the European Union, and certain branded programs that make marketing claims such as natural, no antibiotics, or grassfed. These are all market-driven programs and U.S. cattle producers voluntarily choose to invest in the use of RFID eartags with the full expectation of receiving a financial return on their investment.

So, while there’s nothing wrong with the use of RFID eartags, there is everything wrong when our government forces U.S. cattle producers to invest in and use RFID eartags whether it makes sense to an individual’s ranching operation or not.

Call it an unfunded mandate, a user fee, an added cost of doing business; or call it what it really is: inappropriate government overreach intended to render independent U.S. cattle producers subservient to government control. That’s the underlying motivation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s or USDA’s proposed rule to mandate the use of RFID eartags when a cattle producer ships adult cattle across state lines.

You have until March 20, 2023, to register your objections with the USDA’s encroachment over your freedoms and liberty. If you remain silent, guess what? The USDA will actually think you want it to capture more control over how you run your farms and ranches.

And if you think the government will stop here, and that it’s satisfied with simply controlling how you handle only your adult cattle shipped interstate, then you are wrong, dead wrong.


As reported by the Congressional Research Service over a decade ago, the USDA had already spent $150 million trying to force RFID eartags on America’s cattle producers, and they’ve spent tens of millions more, if not hundreds of millions more since then.

The present rulemaking is simply Phase 1 of the government’s grand plan to force every cattle producer to register their premises with the federal government, to eartag every calf at the time of birth with an RFID eartag, to report and record every movement each time cattle leave the registered premises, and to report and record the final disposition of every animal upon its loss, its death, or its slaughter.

That’s right. The government wants to dictate how you raise your cattle from birth to death and you will be subject to penalties if you dare resist.

If you think for a moment that what I just said is nothing but a conspiracy theory, then you simply haven’t been reading the volumes of publicly available business plans and strategies the government has been generating regarding its ultimate plan to achieve a book-end approach to electronic identification. Now that’s the government’s terminology, not mine. The government defines that book-end approach as an electronic identification system from birth to death, but it also wants to include everything in between.


If this government overreach concerns you, here’s what you need to do. Get on the Internet and type in “Regulations.gov.” Then in the search window type in “Use of Electronic Identification Eartags.” Then find the proposed rule that includes the words “Cattle” and “Bison” in the title. It’s probably the second entry down. Then click on the box that says “Comment.” Now tell the government why you oppose its proposed RFID mandate.


You can simply say the government has no right to force you to increase your cost of production in an industry where receiving your cost of production is already difficult.

Or you can say the government has been doing tracebacks of disease using the much cheaper metal eartags and there’s no reason they can’t continue doing so.

Or you can say the government’s duty is to keep animal diseases out of the country and they need to focus their resources on strengthening our border protections.


Whatever you decide to say, make it clear that you strongly object to the government’s efforts to infringe on your independence and liberty by telling you how to run your cattle operation.

And after you comment on the proposed rule, pick up your phone and call (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your two Senators and your Representative to tell them to stop USDA from forcing you to use RFID eartags.


We’re still waiting to hear back from the Agriculture Secretary regarding our request to know if the electronic chips in the RFID eartags are all made in China or some other foreign country. Obviously, we should strongly object if our U.S. government is trying to force us to support the Chinese Communist Party by affixing their electronic chips in your American cattle.


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R-CALF USA’s weekly opinion/commentary educates and informs both consumers and producers about timely issues important to the U.S. cattle industry and rural America.

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. Visit www.r-calfusa.com or call 406-252-2516 for more information.

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