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APHIS Proposes Amendments to Import Regulations for Horses

Contact: APHISpress@usda.gov

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comments on proposed amendments to its import regulations for horses.  These proposed amendments would better align our regulations with international standards and allow both APHIS and the equine industry more flexibility for permitted imports, while continuing to mitigate the risk of bringing equine diseases, such as contagious equine metritis (CEM), into the United States. The proposed regulations also provide APHIS with more regulatory authority to enforce standards for transporting horses.

The proposed changes include:

  • increasing the amount of time allowed for horses to be in a CEM-affected region without testing upon their return to the United States from 60 to 90 days;
  • requiring an import permit for horses transiting through CEM-affected regions;
  • adding requirements for health certifications;
  • removing the requirement that horses permanently imported from Canada undergo inspection at the port of entry;
  • requiring that horses transiting Central America or the West Indies comply with the same regulations that apply to horses directly imported from these regions, given the greater risk of equine diseases of concern from these areas;
  • adding requirements for shipping containers, including disinfection requirements and measures to ensure horses are transported safely;
  • and miscellaneous clarifications and corrections.

Of particular concern is CEM, a venereal disease caused by the bacterium Taylorella equigenitalis.  The disease only affects horses, and it can have a significant impact on reproduction.  CEM does not affect people.  The United States is considered CEM free and therefore horses imported into the United States must meet certain import criteria or undergo CEM quarantine procedures at an approved facility to demonstrate that CEM is not present.

This proposed rule is on display in today’s Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2021-25613/import-regulations-for-horses. Beginning Monday, members of the public may submit comments through either of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal:  Go to www.regulations.gov.  Enter APHIS-2016-0033 in the Search field.  Select the Documents tab, then select the Comment button in the list of documents.
  • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery:  Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2016-0033, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238


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