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Changes to US Cattle Disease Rules Proposed

15 December 2015

US - Updates to the brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis (TB) programme regulations have been proposed by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Under the proposed rule, states and tribal nations would no longer be categorised by the disease prevalence in their state, and APHIS would no longer rely solely on whole-herd depopulation.

Instead, APHIS is proposing to establish standards for disease surveillance, epidemiological investigations and affected herd management.

States and tribes would develop and implement an animal health plan that outlines how they will meet those standards. States and tribes would be categorised by whether they have an animal health plan, whether APHIS has approved this plan, and whether they are following the activities outlined in their plan.

APHIS would also outline requirements for both interstate movements and imports of cattle, bison and captive cervids (deer, elk), as well as conditions for approving tests, testing laboratories and testers.

The proposed new rules were developed over several years in discussions between APHIS and other industry stakeholders.

APHIS said that these proposed revisions are needed to address the many changes that these industries have undergone since the existing programs were developed many years ago.

"Herds today are much larger than they used to be, and federal funds available for indemnity payments are limited. Using depopulation as the only method of control is no longer feasible," the agency said.

"Instead, it is proven that a test and remove strategy is a cost effective alternative for controlling these diseases, and can be less costly to the American taxpayer. In this strategy, infected herds are tested on a periodic basis and any animals that test positive are removed from the herd."

By using program compliance rather than disease prevalence to determine statuses in the proposed rule, states and tribes will no longer run the risk of status downgrades and state-wide restrictions and testing requirements when sporadic cases may appear.

APHIS wants communities to focus their disease control efforts on specifically designated herds or areas instead. For example, wildlife populations in certain parts of the country carry these diseases and can reintroduce them into domestic herds of any species.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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