USDA, APHIS established the Veterinary Medical Office (VMO), in the early 1970s under its Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) unit. The VMO’s main goal was to assist PPQ Port Inspectors with animal disease exclusion activities. In 2001, the staff name changed to Veterinary Regulatory Support (VRS). VRS is now charged with assisting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with the same activities at U.S. ports of entry.
VRS is a team of veterinarians and administrative support personnel who are committed to USDA’s mission of keeping foreign animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, out of the country by regulating the importation of animal products and byproducts, regulated garbage and related materials. VRS assists USDA in achieving this mission in many ways, including collaborating with officials in CBP, APHIS-PPQ, and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to ensure appropriate and consistent handling of animal materials and regulated garbage at U.S. ports of entry; providing veterinary expertise that bridges the technical gap between the foreign animal disease exclusion regulations, established by APHIS’s Veterinary Services (VS) National Center for Import and Export (NCIE), and the enforcement requirements for the implementation of these regulations, carried out by CBP officers at U.S. ports of entry; and developing effective communication links with VS NCIE, CBP, FSIS, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, State veterinary authorities, industry groups, and others dealing with the animal disease exclusion activities at U.S. ports of entry.