With its publication in the Jan. 9 Federal Register, it’s simply a matter of counting the days until USDA’s revamped and repurposed animal disease traceability rule  becomes final. Now that it has been published, the rule becomes effective March 11, 2013.
Under the rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate must be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates, according to NCBA. The final rule accepts the use of brands , tattoos and brand registration as official identification when accepted by the shipping and receiving states or tribes. Backtags will be accepted as an alternative to official eartags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter.
A Closer Look: States Lead The Way In ID Traceability 
A separate rulemaking process will take place for beef cattle under 18 months of age. Currently, the final rule allows beef cattle under 18 months of age, unless they are moved interstate for shows, exhibitions, rodeos or recreational events, to be exempted from the official identification requirement.