The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued a report showing that the department’s changes in recent years to the policy of providing free sheep identification tags has not had a detrimental effect on the goal of identifying sheep in the United States.
In November 2017, APHIS stopped providing free plastic identification tags to stakeholders. Metal tags were still provided at the time. After a variety of changes in the program since that time, APHIS now provides up to 100 plastic tags to new producers only and metal tags to markets and dealers.
The new report includes several findings:
- Policy changes have not decreased the use of official ID by stakeholders;
- A higher number of metal tags were purchased and distributed in FY 2018;
- Increases in privately purchased official ID may be related to policy changes;
- Policy changes may have caused slight fluctuations in official ID sales and distribution in FY 2018 and 2019, but they returned to previous levels in FY 2020;
- Official ID orders increased slightly in FY 2019 and 2020;
- Numbers of orders of metal ID increased as expected based on quantity of metal ID distributed or purchased in FY 2018 and 2019; in FY 2020 number of orders of metal ID decreased while quantity increased, reflecting larger individual orders;
- Numbers of orders of official ID purchased privately are trending upward and may be related to policy changes that decreased the availability of ID free of charge to producers;
- The size of individual orders of official ID made by regulatory officials/markets/dealers has increased since FY 2018.
American Sheep Industry Association