Jim Rogers (202) 690-4755
Jerry Redding (202) 720-4623
SOUTHERN PATAGONIA IN ARGENTINA
WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2007--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is proposing to amend its regulations to add the southern portion of Patagonia in Argentina to the list of regions considered free of rinderpest and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
In order to confirm the FMD disease-free status of this area, APHIS completed a thorough risk assessment, conducted site visits and collected information from Argentina's government.
In addition to the proposal involving a change in disease status, APHIS is also proposing to add this area to the list of regions subject to restrictions on meat and meat products because of the proximity to and trading relationships with affected areas. These restrictions would require actions such as preparing meat and meat products for export in a USDA inspected facility and sending a certificate issued by the government of Argentina with the product stating that it has not commingled with product from an FMD affected area.
Since the proposed rule would allow the importation of all ruminants and ruminant products from Southern Patagonia, APHIS expects the rule to result in imports of lamb, mutton and goat meat, with the overwhelming majority being lamb and mutton. Sheep make up the majority of livestock in this area, comprising almost 60 percent of the entire sheep population in Argentina. The government of Argentina forecasts that it would export an average of 13.2 million pounds of sheep meat to the United States per year.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer and other cloven-hoofed ruminants. The United States has been FMD free since 1929. Rinderpest is an infectious viral disease of cattle. It is commonly referred to as cattle plague and is not found in the United States.
Notice of this proposed rule is published in the Jan. 5 Federal Register.
Consideration will be given to comments received on or before March 6. Send an original and three copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. APHIS-2005-0096, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1238. If you wish to submit a comment using the Internet, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov, select “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service” from the agency drop-down menu; then click on “Submit.” In the Docket ID column, select APHIS-2005-0096 to submit or view public comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically.
Comments are posted on the Regulations.gov Web site and may also be viewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:40 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.
Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet. Go to the APHIS news release page at /newsroom. Also, anyone with an e-mail address can sign up to receive APHIS press releases automatically. Send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave the subject blank. In the message, type