On Thursday and Friday, March 18-19, APHIS hosted a State/Tribal forum on animal disease traceability. The forum was designed to gather State and Tribal animal health officials from throughout the nation to discuss Secretary Vilsack's new framework for animal disease traceability. Under the new framework, States and Tribes will be responsible for developing animal disease traceability systems that adhere to performance standards set by USDA. The forum provided a venue for APHIS to answer questions about the new framework and to learn how best to support the States and Tribes as they move forward to develop workable traceability systems. Approximately 120 State and Tribal representatives attended the forum. Below is the planned agenda for the forum. While Day 1 followed the agenda as planned, forum planners adjusted the agenda for Day 2 based on the consensus wishes of forum attendees. The actual agenda that was followed on Day 2 is also attached below. Agenda, Day 1 Agenda, Day 2
Day 1 began with opening remarks from Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Edward Avalos and APHIS Associate Administrator Dr. Greg Parham. Mr. Avalos and Dr. Parham welcomed forum attendees and introduced USDA's Chief Veterinary Officer and Deputy Administrator for APHIS' Veterinary Services (VS), Dr. John Clifford. Dr. Clifford, together with VS Eastern and Western Regional Directors, Drs. Jack Shere and Brian McCluskey, offered an informational presentation on the new traceability framework. In addition to discussing the specific features of the new framework, the presentation also offered specifics on cooperative agreement funding and on the development of the performance standards for traceability. The presentation is below.
Following the presentation and clarifying questions from attendees, the forum was divided into rotating breakout discussion groups. There were six breakout discussion topics: the role of consultation in Tribal jurisdictions; information technology; record keeping; interstate movement and jurisdictional issues; liability; and resources. Each discussion participant was provided a brief overview of the issue being discussed along with possible discussion questions, though participants were free to discuss any topic they wished. Each discussion lasted approximately 1 hour. Each session was moderated by USDA personnel. The schedule of rotating sessions, along with discussion overviews and possible questions, and synopses of each discussion group are below.
Following the small group breakout sessions, forum attendees reconvened as a large group. They were asked to comment on four questions following the breakout discussions: what was surprising to you?; what did you get resolved?; what possibilities do you see?; and what are you still confused by? Notes from that discussion are below.
Day 1 concluded with a presentation on the development of Federal performance standards for animal disease traceability. The new framework for animal disease traceability called on USDA to develop broad performance standards that States and Tribes must meet in order to achieve traceability within their borders. The intent of USDA's performance standards would be to describe the desired result of a State/Tribal animal disease traceability program, though the standards would not describe the means for achieving that result. States and Tribes, therefore, would be responsible for determining what traceability solutions work best for them under the broad umbrella of USDA performance standards. The presentation was delivered by Dr. Keith Roehr, State Veterinarian of Colorado and a State representative on the USDA group that is working to develop the Federal regulation on animal disease traceability. Dr. Roehr's presentation and a complete roster of State and Tribal representatives on the USDA traceability regulatory working group are below.
In the evening on Thursday, March 18, following the forum meeting, APHIS hosted an informal discussion/workshop on cooperative agreement funding. Dr. Jack Shere, VS' Eastern Regional Director, presented information on traceability cooperative agreements for fiscal year 2010. the presentation Dr. Shere offered is below.
Day 2 of the forum began with more in-depth discussion of possible performance standards for animal disease traceability. Using the example performance standards that were included in Dr. Roehr's presentation on Day 1 as a starting place for discussion, participants were asked to brainstorm performance standards in groups of approximately 8-10. Groups used discussion questions (below) to guide their brainstorming. Notes from those discussions are below.
Following the discussion of possible performance standards, forum participants requested an overview of the regulatory process (particularly as it pertains to the development of an animal disease traceability regulation). Ms. Cindy Howard, Associate Deputy Administrator for Regulatory Coordination, APHIS Policy and Program Development, offered a brief description of the process (below).
After the discussion of the regulatory framework, several attendees expressed concerns about the aggressive timeline USDA is working under to establish a new animal disease traceability rule. Several Tribal participants in particular expressed concern about the need to have more time for consultation with Tribal leaders and producers. Participants also expressed an interest in having tangible messages and commitments they could take back to their States/Tribes from the forum. Given the group's requests, the day's agenda was adjusted to allow the group to discuss formulate key take home points and outcomes from the forum. Following that discussion, USDA personnel compiled all the points that were raised and presented them to the group (following a break) for further group editing and refinement. The forum's final outcomes and take home points are below.
Day 2 concluded with a discussion of outreach and communication. Participants divided into State and Tribal groups. They were each asked to offer guidance and advice about how USDA could best engage and communicate with the States and Tribes in the coming weeks and months as the new animal disease traceability rule is developed. Notes from the two groups are below.
Dr. John Clifford concluded the forum by offering brief remarks thanking participants for their input.
When the meting adjourned, participants submitted written feedback about the forum. A transcription of that feedback is below.