October 6, 2006
October 6, 2006 - The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) submitted formal comments in response to a Federal Register
request posted by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regarding the importation of sheep and goat semen.
APHIS is proposing to amend the regulations regarding the importation of animal germplasm by removing specific restrictions on sheep semen from regions where scrapie exists and requiring the inclusion of additional information on the international health certificate accompanying sheep and goat semen. Experience and research have convinced APHIS that semen pose a minimal risk of transmitting scrapie.
"The U.S. sheep industry is very committed to eradicating scrapie and has expended a great deal of resources over the past several years in partnerships with APHIS and state animal health authorities to do so," commented Paul Frischknecht, ASI president. "It is very important to the industry that we complete the eradication process in the shortest time possible and provide safe mechanisms for trade in sheep genetics: it is to this end that we submitted these comments."
ASI believes, for the most part, that the proposed amendment is appropriate and would relieve the restrictions on sheep semen while continuing to provide safeguards against the introduction and dissemination of scrapie, yet conform to international standards.
The proposal can and should be made to provide more uniformity with fewer burdens on importers and reduced cost to APHIS. ASI believes that when semen is imported from any country, it should be distributed only to a flock that is registered in the National Scrapie Eradication Program database. With the high compliance rate of flock premises registration in this program, this would provide for better traceability and enhance the overall scrapie eradication effort.
ASI concurs with APHIS that the traceback of first-generation progeny is essential and believes importers of semen from all countries should meet the requirements in the proposed rule. ASI also recommends using the import-permit system to define post-importation requirements rather than formal agreements.
"Trade in sheep semen should be accommodated where disease risk is demonstrated to be at an acceptably low level and where risk mitigation measures and verification/traceability systems are put into place and enforced with uniformity and consistency," concluded Jim Logan, DVM, chair of the ASI Animal Health Committee. Staff contact: Paul Rodgers, 303-771-3500