USDA opens temporary inspection facilities
USDA announced the agency has opened seven temporary export inspection facilities to accommodate surging demand for live cattle exports.
USDA approved the temporary inspection facilities in response to increased demand from Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan for live cattle in 2011. USDA said the facilities reduce the distance animals must travel before export and help exporters meet strict shipping deadlines. Animals that receive approval through temporary facilities are inspected by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and must meet the same animal health and welfare standards as animals exported through permanent facilities, according to USDA.
The temporary facilities have allowed APHIS to adapt to a level of cattle exports that doubled in 2011 in addition to a 50 percent increase in 2010, USDA said. The agency forecast 2012 agricultural exports to reach the second highest level on record. The forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy was increased $1.9 billion. USDA said it continues to work with exporters on upcoming shipments of cattle.
According to USDA, last year, APHIS processed 25 shipments— totaling about 17,000 head of livestock, mostly dairy cattle—through a temporary facility in Turner, ME. In December alone, APHIS’ new approach helped facilitate shipments of more than 7,100 cattle from Galveston, TX, to Kazakhstan and Russia.
USDA has forecast fiscal year 2012 agricultural exports to reach the second-highest level on record. The forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy was increased $1.9 billion, paced by demand for cattle from Russia and Turkey.
In 2011, the U.S. exported $5.4 billion worth of beef and beef products, a record high, surpassing the previous record by more than $1.6 billion.
“Overall, U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its best periods in history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of producers,” according to Lindsay Cole with US- DA.
“Today, net farm income is at record levels while debt has been cut in half since the 1980s. American agriculture supports one in 12 jobs in the U.S. and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food they consume,” she added.
But while the U.S. is seeing a boost in live cattle exports, one inspection facility has been forced to close.
Mexico/U.S. border Due to escalating violence in northern Mexico near the U.S. border, APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) is suspending its animal import operations at the southern border ports of Del Rio, TX, (bordering Acu a, MX) and Columbus, NM (bordering Palomas, MX). VS personnel will no longer enter Mexico at these locations to perform cattle or other animal inspections as part of the import process. These actions were taken last week in order to ensure the safety of APHIS VS personnel at ports of entry.
The growing drug violence, kidnappings and carjackings in Mexico have led the U.S. State Department to increase the number of places it says Americans should avoid for safety reasons for the second time in less than a year.
More than 47,500 people have been killed in Mexico since 2006 when President Felipe Calderon took office and sent the Mexican armed forces to crush powerful cartels battling for lucrative smuggling routes to the U.S.
The State Department advisory noted that 130 Americans were reported murdered in Mexico last year, up from 111 in 2010 and 35 in 2007.
VS will make arrangements to inspect cattle shipments that are currently in export pens at Acu a and Palomas; however, no additional cattle will be eligible for inspection after these have been processed. In addition, VS inspected designated horse shipments entering through Columbus through last Saturday, March 10.
For Del Rio, suspension of all VS import inspection activity became effective Friday March 9, 2012, and will continue until further notice. Mexican exporters that have utilized Del Rio/ Acu a will be advised to redirect animal shipments to Eagle Pass, TX.
For Columbus, NM, suspension of all VS import inspection activity went into effect on Sunday March 11, 2012, and will continue until further notice. Mexican exporters that have utilized Columbus/Palomas will be advised to redirect animal shipments to Santa Teresa, NM. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor