The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is making it easier for animal diagnostic laboratories to carry out vital livestock disease testing on behalf of the agency. USDA is updating regulations that outline how the agency approves laboratories outside the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) and the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) to conduct official testing for animal diseases, as well as how they can remain approved. USDA will now use a single, user-friendly process for laboratory approval and consolidate the existing regulations into one location.
Approved laboratories play a vital role in our animal health efforts, by providing us with proven, accurate results in a specific timeframe. We rely on these laboratories every day to provide clear information about the health status of the nation’s many herds and flocks. These changes will make it easier for laboratories to understand what they need to do to become approved and remain approved to conduct a wide variety of official tests for USDA.
USDA made one clarifying change from the original proposal, based on public comments. The final rule defines the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) as being primarily composed of Federal, State and university-associated animal health laboratories. This change is because on a case-by-case basis, the NAHLN may use private laboratories if their capabilities are needed.
Existing approved laboratories would begin using the new process when it is time for their next renewal. USDA would implement the new process for newly-requested approvals immediately when the rule takes effect on February 24, 2020.