Comprehensive BSE rule written

Mar 16, 2012

USDA announced plans to publish in the Federal Register a comprehensive rule for BSE.

On March 9, USDA proposed the rule to amend federal import regulations for live bovines and bovine products with regard to BSE.

According to USDA, the proposed rule would bring the BSE import regulations in line with international animal health standards that call for countries to base their trade policies on the actual risk of animals or products harboring the disease.

If the proposed rule is finalized, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) import regulations for BSE would become more science based. As a result, commodities that are now restricted but pose no risk for BSE could be imported, according to APHIS.

The rule was written to complete the APHIS update of the BSE import regulations that some believe is long past due.

“NCBA has been pushing for this rule since the first case of BSE was detected in the United States in December 2003. This has been a long time coming and we certainly welcome USDA’s announcement. Quite simply, this proposed rule will show the United States is willing to talk the talk and walk the walk with regard to following international standards developed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE),” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Kent Bacus

APHIS is proposing a risk-based system of managing trade in beef and beef products, relying on the exporting country’s risk status and mitigations appropriate for each risk level.

“Under the proposal, APHIS will have the option of accepting the country risk determination made by the OIE or conducting our own assessment if we deem it appropriate,” APHIS reports said.

According to NCBA, the non-tariff trade barriers hinder our ability to expand U.S. beef exports with potential trading partners.

“It is very difficult for the United States to demand our trading partners follow OIE standards when we are not here at home. The comprehensive BSE rule will change that and will solidify the United States’ commitment to basing our trade relationships on internationally-recognized, sciencebased standards. We stand ready to work with members of Congress and the administration to finalize this rule,” said Bacus OIE provides recommendations for safe trade based on a country’s BSE risk classifications that include negligible, controlled and undetermined.

The proposed BSE comprehensive rule is open for a 60-day public comment period following its publication in the Federal Register. The rule is scheduled for publication within the next week. Currently, the proposed rule is available on the APHIS website. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor