The new year started with the U.S. Department of Agriculture posting the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE); Minimal-Risk Regions and Importation of Commodities Final Rule and Notice. The rule will take effect on March 7, 2005.
The rule establishes a new category of regions that present a minimal risk of introducing BSE into the United States via live ruminants and ruminant products and by-products and adds Canada to this category.
Sheep and goats are permitted to be imported from a BSE minimal-risk region via sealed conveyance directly to slaughter or for feeding and then slaughter. They will be required to be slaughtered at less than 12 months of age. To ensure adherence of this requirement, the following regulations have been provided:
? sheep must be permanently marked as to the country of origin. Animals imported from Canada must be marked with a ?C?;
? all feeder sheep must be individually identified by an eartag, which may not be removed until the animal is slaughtered;
? sheep may be moved to only one designated feedlot; and
? sheep may only be moved from the port of entry to a designed feedlot by a sealed means of conveyance. (This also applies to sheep being moved from the feedlot to a recognized slaughtering establishment.)
An additional case of BSE has been confirmed in Canada since the rule was published. USDA has stated that this additional case, which brings the total to three, is still within the OIE guidelines for a minimal-risk region, therefore, the case will not directly impact the implementation of the rule.