The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is revising branding requirements for cattle imported from Mexico. This change simplifies the branding process, while continuing to ensure Mexican cattle are easily identifiable and traceable for the rest of their lives, in the event of an animal disease detection.
Feeder cattle will be branded with a single “M” on the right hip, and breeding bovines will be branded with a single “M” on the right shoulder. The “M” brand will be larger in size and allow for better readability. An “MX” ear tattoo is still an option for breeder cattle instead of a brand since they have not caused a readability problem and are considered a permanent form of identification. Permanent identification on Mexican cattle is important because they are known to frequently carry tuberculosis and brucellosis, two diseases that are very limited in the United States. Cattle imported from Mexico will still require an official eartag for traceability purposes.
USDA has already allowed Mexico to use these updated branding requirements which has reduced errors and uncertainty at border ports. The change has proven beneficial to both countries by decreasing the need for rebranding and reducing the incidence of cattle rejections at port-of-entry inspection.
USDA issued a proposed rule in April and received 12 comments during the 60 day comment period. After careful review and consideration of those comments, USDA is publishing this final rule, which will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.