The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) in conjunction with the National Pork Producers Council and the National Milk Producers Federation submitted a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to raise concerns about the proposed reorganization of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The animal industry has not been consulted on the proposals being discussed, so it has been left to react to the issues that have come to its attention.
"The animal industry has become aware of a number of proposals under consideration that would have an adverse impact on U.S. animal agriculture. Among those, of immediate concern is the proposal to combine Veterinary Services, Wildlife Services and Animal Care into a single unit. We believe this is an ill-conceived idea that will lead to confusion and will not provide the service delivery required under the authorizing legislation for these programs. It is difficult to comprehend what significant cost savings would be achieved under this proposal," the letter stated.
The animal industry recognizes that there are areas where streamlining of priorities and preserving resources can be achieved through these efficiencies to the benefit of APHIS. There is no doubt about the need to examine agency functions in light of the budget constraints it is facing. However, there is sufficient concern about the various proposals being discussed that the letter requests APHIS consult with the animal agriculture industry before any reorganization proposals are formalized.
"It is our view that once a formal reorganization proposal is developed, we will not have the same opportunity for input that we would have as the proposal is being developed. We urge that no decisions be made on this proposed reorganization until the specific proposals can be discussed with the affected industries. It is not sufficient to have the impact of these changes only assessed by those inside the agency. The affected industries must also have that opportunity," the letter concluded.