Use of Third Party Inspection and Certification Program Listening Sessions

Use of Third Party Inspection and Certification Program Listening Sessions

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is holding four in-person listening sessions to solicit public comment to aid in the development of criteria for recognizing the use of third-party inspection and certification programs as a positive factor when determining APHIS inspection frequencies at facilities licensed or registered under the Animal Welfare Act.  If you are interested in attending one of the listening sessions, please click on the link below to register for a specific location. Please indicate in the comments box if you would like to speak at the listening session.  A virtual listening session will be held by telephone on March 14 for those unable to attend the in-person session.  Details will be sent at a later date for those that registered for that session. See recent publication of the public meeting notice in the Federal Register.




Thursday, January 18, 2018. (9am -- 1pm)
Santa Clara Marriott
2700 Mission College Boulevard
Santa Clara, CA   95054 

Thursday, February 8, 2018 (1pm -- 5pm)
4700 River Road
Riverdale, MD   20737 

Thursday, February 22, 2018 (9am -- 1pm)
6501 Beacon Road
Kansas City, MO    64133 

Thursday, March 8, 2018 (9am -- 1pm)
Renaissance Tampa Hotel International Plaza
4200 Jim Walter Boulevard
Tampa, FL    33607

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 (1pm – 5pm) EST
Phone in Session

Thursday, March 22, 2018 (9am -- 1pm)
Renaissance Columbus Embassy Suites Hotel
2886 Airport Drive
Columbus, OH    43219


Speaking at the Meetings:

Any interested person may speak at the in-person meetings and/or during the virtual meeting. To do so, you must please register. You can also register in person 30 minutes prior to the start of the non-virtual meetings.

USDA may limit the speaking time for each participant so that everyone who wishes to speak can do so in the allotted timeframe. A meeting will end early if all speakers have been heard. You can also submit a written statement at an in-person meeting and it will become an official part of the record. For those reading a prepared statement, we ask that you please provide USDA a copy of the statement. 

Written comments may also be sent to  or mailed to USDA, APHIS Animal Care, 4700 River Road, Riverdale, MD 20737.  Please indicate the title 'Third Party Inspections and Certifications' on all correspondence. 

In particular, APHIS is interested in hearing feedback on the questions below: 

  1. APHIS is considering recognizing the use of qualified, third-party programs when determining APHIS inspection frequencies at regulated facilities.  Would a potential reduction in the frequency of APHIS inspections be a sufficient incentive for regulated facilities to use third party programs to support compliance under the AWA?  Are there other incentives that should be offered to attract participation of regulated entities in the program?  Please explain.   

  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of voluntary, third-party programs to support compliance under the AWA?  What potential benefits and costs might accrue to regulated facilities who elect to use a third-party program?  What are the risks associated with using a third party program?

  3. Are third party programs likely to be effective in practice?  Is there potential for a well-functioning market for third party programs to develop?  Please explain.  What existing third-party programs are already used by regulated facilities to help support their AWA compliance? 

  4. When assessing whether to recognize a third-party program, what criteria should APHIS consider to assure its independence, determine whether the scope of its services support and align with the AWA, and mitigate potential conflicts of interest and other potential risks?  In addition, what information should a regulated facility provide so APHIS may verify its use of a third-party program? 

  5. Aside from recognizing the use of qualified, third party programs, what are other methods APHIS could use to encourage facilities to achieve and sustain compliance with the AWA?  Also, where do you see the greatest opportunity for APHIS to improve the consistency and effectiveness of its AWA program? 


Any questions regarding the registration for these listening sessions, please contact Mike Tuck at or call him at 301.851.3747

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