USDA Proposes Changes to Existing Scrapie Regulations
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing changes to its existing scrapie regulations. These proposed changes include six main components, along with some additional changes to address animal movements and recordkeeping.
The main changes are:
- Aligning the identification requirements for goats with the current sheep identification requirements
- Formalizing the use of genetic testing to assign risk levels to sheep
- Providing the APHIS Administrator with the authority to relieve requirements for sheep and goats exposed to scrapie types, such as Nor98-like, that do not pose a significant risk of transmission
- Increasing flexibility for how investigations can be conducted and allowing the epidemiology in a specific flock to be given more consideration in determining flock and animal status
- Requiring States to meet surveillance minimums to remain Consistent States. Surveillance minimums are based on the number of breeding sheep or goats in the state.
- Moving the following from the regulation to the APHIS website in the form of program standards to allow quicker response to new information:
- List of Consistent States
- Allowed identification devices and methods and restrictions on their use
- Disease status classification procedures for flocks and animals
- Program approved tests for scrapie and scrapie susceptibility and procedures for their use
- Specifics on how fair market value is calculated for indemnity purposes
These changes would affect sheep and goat producers, persons who handle sheep and goats in interstate commerce, and State governments.
This proposed rule is available for review online. APHIS will consider all comments received on or before November 9, 2015. The draft Scrapie Program Standards, Volume 1: National Scrapie Eradication Program is posted on the APHIS website for comment.
Scrapie is a degenerative and eventually fatal prion disease of sheep and goats, and APHIS regulations help prevent its spread and support its eventual eradication. APHIS also has a voluntary scrapie certification program where producers can test and certify their flocks are free of the disease.