Amendment to Interstate Movement of Sheep Regulations Proposed
The U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), announced Aug. 26, 2004, a proposal to require livestock facilities that handle sheep and goats in interstate commerce to follow certain procedures to minimize the potential spread of scrapie.
The approval process will ensure that certain uniform practices relating to the identification, recordkeeping and handling of sheep and goats are followed.
Notice of this proposal was published in the Aug. 26 Federal Register. Comments that are received on or before Oct. 25 will be given consideration.
The proposed rule may be viewed in its entirety at http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/06jun20041800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2004/04-19516.htmon the World Wide Web.
"The proposed rule deals with disease preparedness compliance and enforcement activities, generally focused around market dealers and concentration points," stated American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Deputy Directory of Policy and Animal Health Paul Rodgers.
ASI intends to submit comments on the proposed rule.
$11.64 Million Awarded for Animal ID Projects
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced on Aug. 5, 2004, the selection of 29 state and tribal projects, which will receive a total of $11.64 million to advance the national animal identification initiative.
"This first phase of funding ? takes us closer to our goal of implementing a national animal identification system (NAIS) for all U.S. livestock and poultry animals," stated Veneman.
Besides registering premises and establishing necessary data transfer procedures, many states and tribes will also conduct field trials or research in order to test and fine-tune ID technologies and collect animal-movement data.
A full listing of the funded projects can be located at http://www.usda.gov/Newsroom/on the World Wide Web. As agreements are finalized, a brief synopsis of the projects will be posted to the APHIS Web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/nais/nais.html.
USDA?s ultimate goal for NAIS is to gain the ability to identify all animals and premises that have had direct contact with a foreign animal disease or disease of concern within 48 hours of discovery.
The President?s FY2005 budget calls for $33 million for NAIS. A portion of these funds will be used to finance additional cooperative agreements.
Several of the cooperative agreements that have been funded this fiscal year have inclusions for work with sheep and premises that manage sheep.
Coalition Asks for Options to Complete SRM Ban
A coalition of organizations representing both the cattle and feed industries voiced its concern in early August to the Food and Drug Administration about a complete ban on specified risk materials (SRM) in animal feed.
"FDA?s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on BSE mitigation reflects a significant shift in agency philosophy, one that suggests a ?one-step cures all? approach and based almost exclusively upon removal of all SRMs from all animal foods," stated the coalition in its letter.
The coalition urged FDA to conduct appropriate risk/benefit and cost/benefit analyses that would evaluate various policies that include options other than a complete ban on SRMs in animal feed.
The coalition consisted of the American Sheep Industry Association, American Meat Institute, American Feed Industry Association, National Cattlemen?s Beef Association, National Grain and Feed Association, National Meat Association, National Milk Producers Federation and National Renderers Association.
Protocol for BSE Rapid Testing
Before the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announces an inconclusive Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) test result, it "will now wait until the duplicate or second-run tests are conducted before declaring a test sample inconclusive."
So said USDA/APHIS Chief Veterinarian Dr. John Clifford, on Aug. 4, 2004.
The announcement followed a 60-day review of the testing procedures, which indicated a level of confidence that all BSE labs are proficient in running the samples.
Since APHIS began its enhanced BSE surveillance program on June 1, 2004, 28,000 samples have been conducted. To date, two samples were declared inconclusive for BSE, but were proven to be negative for the disease in subsequent tests.
Near-Perfect Compliance on Feed Ban
The Food and Drug Administration?s most recent update shows that rendering and feed industries are achieving a near-perfect score of 99 percent in compliance with government guidelines regarding feed production and the feeding of mammalian protein to ruminants, reports the American Meat Institute.
The ruminant feed ban went into effect Aug. 4, 1997, and is considered an important firewall in combating Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States.
All inspections are classified into three categories: Official Action Indicated (OAI), Volunteer Action Indicated (VAI) and No Action Indicated (NAI). Of the 2,901 feed industries inspected, 17 firms received an OAI rating (less than 1 percent of the total) while 86 received a VAI rating (3 percent of the total).
A total of 161 renderer inspections revealed that zero firms were classified as OAI and 4 firms (2.5 percent of the total) as VAI.
Rabies Control Program Funded
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Aug. 11, 2004, that $5.4 million has been transferred from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to USDA?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to fund wildlife rabies control.
The oral rabies vaccination program protects agriculture and human health from the threat of rabies. A multi-state campaign to stop the westward spread of raccoon rabies has been in place for several years. By vaccinating raccoons against rabies, Wildlife Services and its state cooperators are working to immunize raccoons that serve as reservoirs of the disease and infect other wildlife, domestic animals and humans.
USDA currently works with 15 states to distribute oral rabies vaccine baits. Those states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
Pennsylvania Completes Phase Two of Oral Rabies Project
The second phase of the annual oral rabies vaccination program in Pennsylvania began on Aug. 9 and ran through September 2004.
Low-flying aircraft dropped bait into sparsely populated areas, while trained employees targeted densely populated areas by hand. Wildlife rabies accounts for almost 93 percent of the reported rabies cases in the United States, while raccoons account for more than 50 percent.
The vaccine contained only a small, non-infective portion of the rabies virus that cannot cause rabies and is placed inside a fishmeal bait to lure raccoons to the smell. When the raccoon punctures the sealed plastic package, the vaccine is released into its mouth. Although the primary focus is to vaccinate raccoons, other animals such as dogs, cats, cattle, horses, skunks and foxes are also benefiting from the program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Wildlife Services worked in conjunction with six agencies to carry out the program.
LRP Sales Resume
The U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced Aug. 12, 2004, that sales of Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) and Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) Insurance Policies would resume Oct. 1, 2004.
Sales for LRP feeder cattle and fed cattle were suspended on Dec. 23, 2003, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was detected in the state of Washington. Changes were submitted by the product developer to address abnormal occurrences, such as BSE.
LRP policies are designed to insure against declining market prices and are currently available for swine, feeder cattle and fed cattle in selected states.
The American Sheep Industry Association is planning to present RMA with a pilot project proposal for a Livestock Risk Protection product for sheep this fall.
AASRP Joins Food Supply Coalition
The American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners (AASRP) has announced its participation in a newly formed coalition, the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine (FSVM).
The aim of FSVM is to assure the public that food continues to be abundant, safe and wholesome by ensuring that veterinarians are appropriately involved throughout the food supply system.
FSVM encompasses all aspects of veterinary medicine?s involvement in food supply systems, from traditional agricultural production to consumption.
The coalition?s first major project is a comprehensive study comprised of multiple research phases addressing the demand for, and the availability of, food supply veterinarians in the United States and Canada.
The American Sheep Industry Association is an AASRP member.
FSIS Wishes to Change Visit Procedure
The U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing to amend its regulations to change the required frequency of foreign inspection system supervisory visits to certified foreign establishments so as to bring FSIS import requirements into agreement with its requirements for domestic establishments.
FSIS proposed in an Aug. 18, 2004, Federal Register notice to delete the current requirement that supervisory visits take place "not less frequent[ly] than one such visit per month." In its place, FSIS is proposing to require foreign inspection systems to make "periodic supervisory visits" to certified establishments in order to ensure that such establishments continue to meet FSIS requirements for certification to export meat and poultry to the United States.
Comments on this proposed rule can be submitted to FSIS on or before Oct. 18, 2004. For complete information and directions, log on to: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/06jun20041800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2004/04-18889.htmon the World Wide Web.
APHIS and FSIS Welcome OIG Report
"The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) welcome the report and recommendations from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) regarding the enhanced bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance program."
That was the word from U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS Administrator Ron DeHaven and FSIS Acting Administrator Barbara Masters, in a written statement issued Aug. 24, 2004.
A total of 19 recommendations on specific program issues were made in the OIG report. USDA is in agreement with the report, and has already taken action on several recommendations contained in the report.
The agencies are committed to ensuring that the BSE surveillance program yields accurate and reliable information for the general public, for industry and for trading partners.
Since the single case of BSE was found in Washington State last December, APHIS and FSIS have worked hard to be transparent in their prevention, surveillance and eradication efforts, with the objective of ensuring that they have the benefit of expertise from around the country and the world.
U.S. Free of Avian Influenza Virus
The U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) the last week of August that the United States is now free of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), according to the OIE definition.
Countries that wish to have a disease status changed by OIE are required to notify that organization when the appropriate definition has been met.
"It is always a pleasure to be able to call the OIE and report that we?ve eradicated a disease in this country," said USDA Chief Veterinarian Dr. John Clifford. "The HPAI eradication project was such a success because of the cooperation between APHIS, state and local governments and the poultry industry."