September 8, 2006
September 8, 2006 - In the Aug. 21, 2001, Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published its Final Rule entitled "Scrapie in Sheep and Goats; Interstate Movement Restrictions and Indemnity Program." The rule amended the regulations for the movement of sheep and goats by requiring certain animal identification for animals moving interstate.
Since the inception of the program, APHIS considered all 50 states to have consistent state status in regard to the National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP); however, come Sept. 30, 2006, that status may change for some states that are not in full compliance. States must have consistent state status in order to move breeding sheep or goats to other states with minimal restrictions.
To be considered a consistent state after Sep. 30, 2006, each state is required to meet all the federal standards. The federal standards require the development and maintenance of an effective scrapie-control program within the state, including requiring the identification of most sheep and goats on change of ownership.
According to the APHIS NSEP Coordinator Diane Sutton, DVM, three states have indicated that they will not be consistent by the deadline. Those states are: Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. All other states have met or have indicated that they expect to meet the regulatory requirements of the NSEP by the Sept. 30 cut off.
There will be serious implications for producers in the states that do not meet the consistent state requirements. Producers in an inconsistent state who wish to move breeding sheep across state lines will be required to be enrolled, and in good standing, with the Scrapie Flock Certification Program. Among other requirements, this program requires the producer's flock to be inspected annually by USDA or state personnel. The producer will also be required to implement a record-keeping system and keep comprehensive animal identification records. In this situation, producers may face time delays moving sheep out of the state because USDA and the state animal health department will need to allocate staff, time and budget to inspect individual flocks.
Secondly, producers will need to obtain a certificate of veterinary inspection (often called a health certificate) every time they wish to ship cull sheep or breeding goats out of state in addition to breeding sheep and goats commingled with sheep, as is currently required.
Finally, it is also possible that some states will refuse to accept any sheep or goats from a state that does not have a consistent status.
"Identification compliance is crucial to achieving scrapie eradication. Identifying animals to their flock of birth allows us to find infected flocks and to trace exposed animals out of these flocks to prevent the further spread of the disease," stated Sutton. "States that do not become fully compliant with the consistent state status will be placing a substantial burden on their producers. State veterinarians in the remaining states may need additional producer support to get the changes made in time."
The American Sheep Industry Association has worked with its state affiliates in the interest of seeing that scrapie is eradicated from the United States as soon as possible. Producers are encouraged to communicate with their state animal health authorities and legislators to explain the importance of this rule to their operation and to their ability to conduct interstate commerce. Staff contact: Paul Rodgers, 303-771-3500