APHIS’ Five-Year Strategic Plan and Long-Term Projections Forecast Regulation of Farmed Animals

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2023-2027 (Strategic Plan). The plan includes a number of goals, including reduction of the impacts of zoonotic diseases; expansion of the trade in agricultural products nationally and internationally; and promotion of animal welfare by updating and enhancing Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations. The proposed updates to the AWA regulations include moving “more quickly to confiscate animals at extreme risk,” improving AWA inspections by five percent over fiscal year 2022, and eliminating horse soring. APHIS released the Strategic Plan alongside a report on projected trends that will impact the agency over the next 20-30 years. The report notes shifting attitudes and values concerning health and animal welfare, including a growing number who believe that “livestock and wildlife should be provided the same rights as domesticated pets” which will likely trigger pressure on APHIS to “prioritize the use of humane animal agricultural practices” and, “as the list of animals considered pets expands, farms may be subject to AWA regulation.”