November 7, 2003
Nov. 07, 2003 -- In an announcement made Oct. 31, 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a proposed rule to amend its bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) regulations to create a new category of countries and regions. The new category would recognize those countries/regions that present a ?minimal risk? of introducing BSE into the United States via the importation of low-risk live ruminants and ruminant products.
The proposed minimal risk region would include regions in which an animal has been diagnosed with BSE but where, among other things, specific preventative measures have been in place for an appropriate period of time to reduce the risk of BSE being introduced into the United States. The rule would list Canada as a minimal risk country for BSE, making it eligible to export certain live ruminants and ruminant products under specified conditions.
According to the proposed rule, lambs less than 12 months of age could be imported directly to slaughter, and feeder lambs could be imported to "designated feedlots" and then to slaughter at less than 12 months of age. Imported lambs would be tattooed with a mark designating them as originating in Canada.
USDA also released the findings of a second assessment conducted by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. The study found that even if infected animals or ruminant feed material entered the U.S. animal agriculture system from Canada, the risk of it spreading extensively within the U.S. herd is extremely low. Any possible spread would now have been reversed by controls put in place in the late 1990s, and the disease would eventually be eliminated from the United States.
According to American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) President Guy Flora, ?ASI has met with Canadian sheep producer representatives twice this fall to hear their concerns. ASI?s comments to the proposed rule allowing resumption of live trade will be thoroughly examined and submitted to the Department by the deadline.
?We will be distributing comments to the sheep industry leadership in advance to assist with additional comment,? Flora added. ?Change, if any, will be months in the making given the procedure of public comment and review."
Comments will be considered if received on or before Jan. 5, 2004, and can be submitted by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
. A full copy of the Federal Register is available at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=2003_register&docid=fr04no03-5
Staff contact: Paul Rodgers, 304-647-9981