In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposed to amend regulations to allow the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) ovine meat from Uruguay.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) agrees with the regulations that conditions for export must be established and strictly adhered to in order to mitigate risk and to protect the United States against the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). It is noted that beef has been exported from Uruguay since May 2003, and the sheep industry agrees with the approach APHIS is taking to make the conditions for exporting lamb the same as those for exporting beef.
In addition to the risk-mitigation measures proposed by APHIS, ASI urges the agency to re-examine the 2007 risk assessment that was based upon 2006 data from Uruguay. Many changes in Uruguay's risk factors and its ability to prevent and mitigate FMD risk may have occurred since then, therefore, it would be prudent to re-examine and re-evaluate data and analyses that are this old. Additionally, a new site visit for program evaluation is suggested.
In conclusion, ASI urged APHIS to specify a schedule requiring follow-up and ongoing reporting from Uruguay on the risk of FMD and the implementation of risk mitigation measures, similar to how the states are required to report to APHIS in the United States.
The proposed rule is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/2011-4138.htm.