March 15, 2004
Mar/Apr 2004 --
Rejection of User Fees Recommendation Urged
Twenty-three organizations, including the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), are urging members of both the U.S. House and Senate to oppose the Administration's request to assess "user fees" for federally mandated meat, poultry or egg inspections.
In its FY 2005 budget submission to Congress, the Administration requested the introduction of user fees for meat, poultry and egg inspection programs, which would implement a tax on consumers, livestock producers and the identified industries.
A proposal to end direct government payment for food-safety inspections would be the first step in the deterioration of a program that is currently effective and has strong public confidence.
"Past attempts to impose 'user fees' have been unsuccessful and ASI joins the other associations in asking Congress to once again reject this assessment," stated ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick.
Increase for BSE Efforts Sought in '05 Budget
According to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, the administration's FY 2005 budget proposal will include an increase of $47 million to fund multi-agency efforts to enhance USDA's Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) prevention program.
The Delta Farm Press recently reported that the administration will request a total of $60 million for BSE-related activities. The total request includes:
Associations Host Joint Seminar to Discuss BSE Issues
- $33 million to further accelerate the development of a national animal identification system;
- $17 million for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to collect 40,000 samples and tests for BSE at rendering plants and on farms;
- $5 million for Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to conduct advanced research and development of BSE testing technologies;
- $4 million for Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to conduct monitoring and surveillance of compliance with BSE regulations; and
- $1 million for Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to dispatch rapid response teams to markets experiencing BSE-related complaints.
The American Meat Institute Foundation, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the U.S. Meat Export Federation co-sponsored on Feb. 3, 2004, a well-attended seminar in Washington, D.C., pertaining to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) developments.
Speakers stressed the importance of moving quickly to restore international trade of U.S. beef products since a single case of BSE does not constitute an epidemic.
"Trade bans of U.S. beef are not founded on science and thus are inconsistent with the OIE Code, which identifies the proper response to a finding of isolated BSE based on accepted risk-assessment guidelines," stated Ron DeHaven, D.V.M., U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service deputy administrator for Veterinary Services
The following day a report from an international team that investigated the single case of BSE was presented. In it, the panel complimented the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services for the many steps taken to secure the safety of U.S. beef and protect animal agriculture.
The departments will take into consideration the comments and recommendations presented by the team.
This first case of BSE in the United States cannot be considered in isolation from the whole cattle production system in North America. The review panel recommended that close collaboration between all appropriate agencies involved in the North American Free Trade Agreement is essential for the proper management of the new North American BSE problem. Within this scope, it supported efforts by authorities to implement a national identification system that is appropriate to North American livestock production.
To access a copy of the report via the Internet visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/bse/US_BSE_Report.doc
Canada Announces Import Restrictions
Canada announced on Feb. 14, 2004, importation restrictions on ruminant and ruminant products from the United States. Products affected by the enactment include: bovines (other than cattle for immediate slaughter), sheep and goats, cervids, ruminant embryos, ruminant derived products and by-products and rendered products.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Web site, Canada is implementing import restrictions to limit the range of products eligible to be imported from the United States as a precautionary measure.
The latest list of restrictions can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/heasan/disemala/bseesb/americ/imprestricte.shtml
Comment Period Extended
The U.S. Agriculture Department announced on Feb. 24, 2004, that it would reopen the public comment period for its proposal to ease a ban on live cattle shipments from Canada imposed after that nation's case of mad cow disease in May 2003, reported Reuters.
Reopening the comment period means a further delay in resuming live cattle trade with Canada, despite Ottawa's repeated pleas for the border to reopen.
USDA closed the comment period on Jan. 5 after receiving more than 600 e-mails, letters and faxes about its proposal. ASI submitted comments since the ban involves all ruminant animal trade and will again review the proposal when it is posted to consider any additional changes.
Testimony on Animal ID
Secretary Ann M. Veneman in January appointed USDA Chief Information Officer (CIO) Scott Charbo to advise her on how to move forward with a national animal identification program.
She also asked General Counsel Nancy Bryson and Dr. Keith J. Collins, chief economist, to work with Charbo to develop these recommendations.
Collins offered testimony to the appropriations committee at a hearing recently where he revealed a set of preliminary principles they believe could guide implementation of a national animal ID system.
The goal is to create an effective, uniform, consistent and efficient national animal identification system by:
- Allowing producers, to the extent possible, the flexibility to use current systems or adopt new ones, but not burden them with multiple identification numbers, systems or requirements.
- Building on the data standards developed in the U.S. Animal Identification Plan set forth by a joint Federal-State-private partnership of more than 70 organizations.
- Remaining technology neutral in order to utilize all existing forms of effective technologies and new forms of technology that may be developed.
- Designing architecture for the system without unduly increasing the role and size of the government.
- Ensuring that the system does not preclude producers from being able to use it to add value by aligning production management with market incentives.
Collins also admitted that as they reviewed this issue, they were struck by a number of difficult policy questions that must still be resolved in order to move ahead with a national program.
Third Stakeholder Summit Scheduled
The Animal Agriculture Alliance has announced plans to host its third industrywide Stakeholders Summit. This day-and-a-half conference, "Animal Welfare's Importance to the Food Chain, Turning Challenges into Opportunities," is scheduled for March 22-24, at the Crystal City Holton Hotel in Arlington, Va.
This year's summit is focused specifically on animal welfare and its importance to all stakeholders in the food chain, and is targeted at senior management of all companies involved from "farm to fork." The goal is to provide CEO's, COO's and CFO's with the insight and information to successfully meet future challenges.
More detailed information about the summit and registration information can be found at: www.anmalagalliance.org
The American Sheep Industry Association has been a supporting member of the Animal Agriculture Alliance since its inception.
WA Group Considering Impact of Sheep Disease
A working group is being formed to discuss how the outbreak of the debilitating sheep disease ovine Johne's can be realistically eradicated, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Six cases of the disease have been confirmed on farms in Western Australia.
Farmers and the Department of Agriculture have met to discuss the outbreak as well as the impact it will have on Western Australia's 'disease-free' status.