January 15, 2004
The U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently issued via the Federal Register a proposed rule regarding the development of partnerships at the federal, state and industry levels to share costs associated with animal or plant disease issues.
?Given today?s highly mobile environment and global agricultural economy, the threat to U.S. agricultural and nonagricultural resources from new pest and disease incursions is ever present, and we concur with the department?s statement,? said Guy Flora, president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). ?These threats represent predictable ?costs? associated with global agriculture and mobile people. However, as these costs have risen, we must assume, as well, that the value to the public sector of increased mobility and a global agricultural economy has also increased.?
ASI agrees that USDA/APHIS should continue working with states to assist them in the development of Standards for State Animal Health Emergency Management Systems. Effective and functional federal, state and industry partnerships will both increase the efficiency with which diseases and pests are dealt as well as reduce the cost burden for all sectors.
?We do not believe that it is appropriate nor in the best interest of the agricultural or the public sector, in general, to establish arbitrary, prescriptive cost-sharing amounts and limits on expenditures or program duration as proposed,? stated ASI in its comments. ?We believe that the proposal would restrict the collective ability of federal, State and industry partners to deal effectively with animal health emergencies and would likely inhibit state emergency response capabilities. We, therefore, urge the withdrawal of this proposed rule.?