The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture has finalized a rule originally proposed in May that updates standards related to sanitization and disease control.
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APHIS Updates Poultry Plan
USDA Animal Health Technician Indicted for Accepting Bribes to Allow Diseased Cattle to Enter the United States Without Inspection or Quarantine
According to the Houston Chronicle, U.S. Department of Agriculture Lead Animal Health Technician Roberto Adams has been indicted for felony bribery in connection with his alleged acceptance of bribes from March 2019 through November 2021 to allow tick-infested and diseased cattle to enter the United States from Mexico. Adams was arrested in Laredo, Texas, and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. He faces a maximum sentence of fifteen years in federal prison and $250,000 in criminal penalties. A copy of his indictment has not been posted publicly.
USDA Seeks Public Input on Information Collection About Enforcement of the Horse Protection Act
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comments on its proposed extension of an ongoing information collection under the Horse Protection Program and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. The agency is seeking specific information about how the “quality, utility, and clarity” of the information it obtains from horse industry officials about horse soring can be improved. The public comment period is open through May 9, 2022.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Seeks Public Input on Extended Collection of Information About African Swine Fever
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that it is seeking a 3-year extension of OMB’s prior approval of APHIS’ information collection associated with the control of African swine fever (ASF), a highly contagious and deadly disease affecting domestic and wild pigs, and restrictions on the movement of swine products and swine byproducts from Puerto Rico to the U.S. Virgin Islands. APHIS seeks the extension due to the outbreak of ASF in the Dominican Republic, which is in close proximity to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. APHIS is accepting public comments on the proposed information collection through May 2, 2022.
Bill Would Create Program to Train Dogs to Detect Diseases that Threaten Agriculture and Natural Resources
Senate Bill 3678, the “Beagle Brigade Act of 2022,” would establish a National Detector Dog Training Center to train dogs for the purpose of “safeguarding domestic agricultural and natural resources from foreign and invasive pests and diseases.” The bill also provides for an adoption program for senior dogs who have participated in the program and dogs who do not complete the training program. The program would be administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The bill was introduced by Sen. Raphael Warnock and Sen. Joni Ernst and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
Federal Appropriations Bill Includes Multiple Animal Protection Measures
President Biden signed H.R. 2471, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022,” which allocates $1.5 trillion for federal spending through September 30, 2022, including funding for the administration of the federal Animal Welfare Act, Horse Protection Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and Endangered Species Act. Noteworthy aspects of the final, enacted, legislation include:
- A $16 million increase in funding for conservation of critically endangered North American right whales.
- A $1 million increase in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enforce the Horse Protection Act.
- A $500,000 increase in available funding for grants to enable domestic violence service providers to create or expand programs to assist survivors who have companion animals.
- Extension of the ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption.
- A negligible funding increase for administration and enforcement of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which advocacy groups are harshly criticizing due to the backlog of approximately four hundred species awaiting ESA protection decisions.
- Directing the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to use $11 million for expansion of safe and humane fertility control methods on wild horses and burros.
- Directing the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to ensure that all inspection personnel receive training on humane handling regulations and that FSIS continues to make reports and enforcement actions against slaughter plants publicly available.
A prohibition on importing elephant and lion trophies from Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania that was included in the House version of the appropriations package was not included in the final law.