USDA Proposes Regulations Revision for Exporting Live Animal

on Feb 28 in News

USDA Proposes Regulations Revision for Exporting Live Animals, Providing Additional Flexibility

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2015 – The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing updates to its regulations for the export of live animals. Since it last updated these regulations, business practices have evolved significantly and other countries have changed their livestock import requirements.

The proposed rule would remove from the regulations most of the requirements for export certifications, tests, and treatments. Exporters will work to meet the specific requirements of the importing country. APHIS will continue to retain certain export requirements considered necessary to ensure the health and welfare of the animals, such as issuance of export health certificates (EHCs) for livestock intended for export.

The proposed rule also includes the following changes:

• If an importing country requires an EHC for live animals other than livestock or for hatching eggs or animal germplasm, APHIS would require that the animals must be accompanied by the EHC to be eligible for export from the United States;
• Pre-export livestock inspection would be allowed to occur at facilities other than an export inspection facility at the port of embarkation, under certain circumstances; and
• Specific standards for export inspection facilities and ocean transport vessels would be replaced with performance standards.

These proposed changes will provide additional flexibility to businesses and better support livestock exports to overseas markets, a segment of U.S. trade which continues to grow each year. The changes are part of APHIS’ ongoing effort to meet stakeholder needs by reviewing and streamlining its regulations. The goal is to make APHIS regulations more responsive to customer needs, easier to update in the future and more performance-based.

APHIS is seeking public comment on this proposal. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before April 27, 2015. Interested parties may submit comments by either of the following methods:
• Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to:!submitComment;D=APHIS_FRDOC_0001-1742.
• Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2012-0049, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.
• Supporting documents and any comments APHIS receives on this docket may be viewed at at!documentDetail;D=APHIS_FRDOC_0001-1742 or in the APHIS reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 799-7039.

FASS Responds to Animal Care Concerns

on Feb 23 in News

FASS Responds to Animal Care Concerns

Champaign, Illinois – February 23, 2015 – In response to recent concerns raised about the care of farm animals in research at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (US MARC), the Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on February 19, 2015. In this letter, FASS expressed its support for the use of resources, such as the FASS “Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching” (FASS Ag Guide), in promoting proper farm animal care in research using the latest scientific information. As leading experts in animal science, FASS and the members of its founding societies take seriously the responsibility to provide assistance at the top levels of government regarding animal research.

With the recently voiced public concerns over animal safety and welfare, some have called for legislative changes to expand the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to include farm animals used in agricultural research at USDA and possibly other sites. Because the FASS Ag Guide provides current, science-based guidelines specifically relevant to farm animal care in research, it is the most applicable resource for scientists conducting research with farm animals. FASS does not believe an expansion of the AWA would improve animal care. FASS encourages the use of the Ag Guide, in tandem with peer review, to ensure responsible treatment of animals at research facilities.

Since 1988, FASS (then the Federation of American Societies of Food Animal Sciences, FASFAS, the predecessor to FASS) has published the FASS Ag Guide; in the years since, it has become the primary document used for governing farm animal research in the United States and abroad. The FASS Ag Guide is used by many institutions, including USDA inspectors and the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, because of its detailed, science-based, and species-specific recommendations.

Since its inception, the stated mission of FASS has been to “strengthen the common interests and collective good of member societies through a unified science-based voice that supports animal agriculture, animal products, and food systems globally through effective and efficient management services.” To achieve this, FASS has consistently sought to foster the shared goals of its founding societies and assist policy makers in areas of animal science. With this in mind, FASS and its members stand ready to provide support to USDA and other government agencies regarding the best way forward for safety and welfare in animal research.

For more information or to learn more about FASS, please visit or contact the federation.

Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS)
1800 S. Oak Street, Suite 100
Champaign, IL 61820-6974
Phone: (217) 356-3182 | Fax: (217) 398

USDA Sheep and Goat Health

on Nov 25 in News

“The mission of USDA APHIS Sheep and Goat Health Program is to partner with the States, Industry, allied Federal agencies, and other stakeholders to safeguard the health of the U.S. sheep and goat populations; facilitate trade in sheep, goats and their products; and identify and address health issues that arise at the human-sheep/goat interface, and between wildlife and domestic sheep/goats.

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, value of sales for the sheep and goat sector of United States agriculture increased 33 percent over the sales figure from the 2007 census. During 2012 sales of sheep and goats and their products totaled $939.7 million, accounting for 0.2 percent of all agricultural products sold in the United States. Additionally, in 2012 there were approximately 115,000 sheep and goat farms, accounting for 5.4% of all farms in the United States. Maintaining the health of sheep and goats is important economically and for maintaining a safe and available food supply.” Visit site:!ut/p/a1/tZHLUoMwGEafpQuXTCK3JEt6hbZYx1pb2GQChBIHAoXUUZ_eUF3oorUuzO5Pvi85cwJisAOxZC9iz5SoJSv7OXbpfOWbt0NoBrM1mcDg7mka4iWyVr6tA5EOjGaeb6MlhNDGJgzGQ3-MSAhh4F7Xh2eWB3_rb0EM4lSqRhUgYk0hOprWUnGpaCmSlrVvN7BjtD62NK_TY3eamBQVK2nBWamK7zuZ6DjrOBUyr9vqJKG_v0lFBiKLwyRjTmK4PMeGjQkxiMOxQQhCDJsZQpb1yfMDeTYZauTp8h4t5iZcOF-BS8pOgQtOIi0NnbVCbLD-I_X8im8Sz4dD7GnZvd5XBXb_Yls_ZLbhKNxrfqYKoz8Du8udptpsKmy5D_77Y15tcecNBh-aJHnn/?1dmy&urile=wcm%3apath%3a%2Faphis_content_library%2Fsa_our_focus%2Fsa_animal_health%2Fsa_animal_disease_information%2Fsa_sheep_goat_health

USDA announces NewFarmer website

on Jul 01 in Industry News, News

Today USDA continues its commitment to the future of agriculture by unveiling, a one-stop shop for new and beginning farmers entering agriculture. It’s a practical, workable tool that will help farmers and ranchers of tomorrow tap into the range of USDA resources today. Featuring direct links to USDA programs and services, as well as case studies about how USDA support is being put to work to for America’s agriculture future, is a welcome new resource.

New and beginning farmers and ranchers are as diverse as American agriculture itself. They are veterans entering agriculture after their military service and immigrants new to the country. They are farmers returning to the land after long absences and young people taking on their first jobs. They are professionals entering agriculture in their post-retirement years, and new couples raising tomorrow’s farm families.

Read the press release. Help us spread the word about ! Visit Learn about what USDA has to offer the next generation of farmers. Use #newfarmers to support America’s farmers and ranchers of tomorrow.

Why Should Goat Producers be Concerned about Q Fever?

on Mar 09 in Industry News, News

In February 2012, Tom Boyer, then President of the Board of the American Goat Federation (AGF) participated in meetings as a member of the working group on Q fever. This group is comprised of three state public health or state veterinarians, two academic Coxiella researchers, one USDA small ruminant epidemiologist, and one Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Coxiella specialist who is also a veterinarian, along with three industry representatives; one from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, one from the ASI and one from the AGF. Dr. Ann Garvey, the Iowa State Public Health Veterinarian, is coordinating the group.

Q Fever is caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii. It is a disease of worldwide proportions affecting both humans and livestock. It first made national news when the Netherlands experienced a large outbreak of Q fever, which resulted in thousands of people being infected and a dozen or so fatalities in 2007. There were as many as 50,000 goats and a smaller number of sheep slaughtered in reaction to this outbreak. For the most part, Q fever’s effect on humans is minor, generally causing fatigue and flu-like systems, and can be treated with antibiotics. The disease can be transmitted to the general public through infected raw milk; however, pasteurized milk and milk products are safe to use. It is believed that the biggest risk comes from breathing the bacterium when cleaning barns or livestock birthing areas, particularly those of cattle, sheep and goats.

According to the CDC, Q fever causes abortions in goats and sheep, and to a lesser degree in cattle. Animals acquire Q fever through contact with reproductive fluids and milk from infected animals. Medical health professionals are concerned because in areas where infected
animals are present, veterinarians, meatpacking workers and farmers are at risk for contracting Q fever. Humans are very susceptible to the disease and are easily infected through contact and even inhalation, when they are exposed to birthing fluids and material from infected animals. Because the bacterium is extremely hardy and resistant to heat, drying and many common disinfectants, it can survive for long periods of time in barns and corrals. The human incidence of this disease and the growing indication that it has long term effects is the reason for the involvement of the CDC in this working group. The American Goat Federation was invited to participate as the representative of the goat industry because goat producers, from all segments of the industry are and can be affected by this disease.

Humane handling has many connections to the safety and quality of meats

on Feb 28 in Industry News, News

The American Meat Institute’s (AMI) July 2013 edition, Rev.1, Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines & Audit Guide: A Systematic Approach to Animal Welfare that’s credited to Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University is an aggregation of voluntary humane handling programs that goes beyond USDA/FSIS regulatory requirements involving humane handling.

Some of the content contained within the AMI guidelines are advanced recommendations that when examined closely, could become harbingers of things to expect of future FSIS/USDA directives and notices.

Already USDA/AMS governmental auditors are required to attend the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) training classes, pass the written exam and perform three shadow audits prior to receiving their PAACO certification.

Many of the private humane handling auditors that are contracted by the Wal-Mart’s and McDonald’s are PAACO certified or hold an equivalent qualification. PAACO holds several certification courses each year. It can take a year or more to be accepted because of the large amount of people who try to attend from around the world.

USDA/AMS auditors are presently performing humane handling audits at pre-approved USDA harvesting establishments that qualify to supply fresh boneless beef and or frozen ground beef for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Approved suppliers to the NSLP are required to have a written humane handling program that’s based on the AMI’s latest animal handling guidelines. In addition, the NSLP requires that someone who is PAACO certified (or an equivalent) train the establishment employee’s who work in the corrals and perform internal audits. The AMI’s guideline contains audit forms for lamb, pigs and cattle.

Know that presently the FSIS does NOT require harvesting establishment to have written humane handling programs. Prudent harvesting companies do have such a program in place as perceptive establishments base their written program on the most recent AMI’s humane handling guidelines while including references to germane USDA/FSIS directives.

If one connects the AMI’s humane handling guidelines with present academia studies regarding enteric and exterior pathogens (including parasites) that are naturally inherent with livestock, the end result is a fountainhead of pragmatic and preventive measures that can truncate measurably and quantifiably, pathogens downstream during transportation, corralling and ultimately the harvesting of livestock; incluidng the meat quality.

Cases in point: Trailer maintenance

The conditions of the trailers should be kept as clean as possible. There should be no protruding objects and the floor of the trailers must be non-slip. Ideally, the trailers should be cleaned after each load of livestock.

Past studies involving DNA tracking show cross contamination can occur from one load of cattle to another regarding E. coli O157:H7 and the six NON O157:H7 STECS.

The hog industry routinely steam cleans their trailers in order to eschew diseases.

Often the problem with sub-contracted livestock truck transporters, opposed to the pig transporters, is there’s no present requirement to ensure trailers are cleaned between loads of cattle: unless the harvesting establishment requires it and enforces their policies.

Loading practices/driving practices

Statistics have clearly shown that overloading livestock increases bruises and injuries that result with adverse results to meat quality. Driving conditions that avoid sudden stops and accelerations will also help preclude bruises and injuries.

Water, water trough and pen conditions

Keeping the water and the water troughs clean on a regular cleaning and change-out schedule (including the addition of chlorine tablets and salt licks) can help reduce the possibility of cross contamination of pathogens from one animal to another. Regular cleaning of the corral floors can also help reduce cross contamination of pathogens while contemporaneously reducing slips and falls that can result with injuries and bruises.

Scheduling deliveries

Pre-planned scheduling of deliveries of livestock plays an important role that in most circumstances can help sidestep FSIS’s 28-hour law (49 USC 80502 – requiring trucks to stop and provide animals with food, water and rest).

USDA/FSIS regulations (9 CFR 313.2) require that if livestock are held in the corrals longer than 24 hours they must be fed. Feeding livestock prior to the knocking creates marked increases of ingesta from shackling through head removal downstream on the kill floor- even if the esophagus is tied or clipped.

Dr. Grandin is unequivocally a walking genius regarding the humane handling of animals. She’s that bright and that commonsensical.

When you factor in talented people like Erika Voogd, Mike Simpson, Janet Riley and members of the AMI’s humane handling committee, among others, the collective results is the perspicacious AMI guidelines.

My next blog will examine Bio-security, the FSIS Humane Handling Activities Tracks Systems (HATS) and then we’ll begin focusing on pathogenic interventions that some are practicing in the corrals leading up to the final chute.

(Excerpts for this blog were derived from the AMI’s July 2013 recommended guidelines for animal’s edition)Source:


USDA Expands Research on Larger Dog Breeds for Use in Livestock Protection

on Feb 26 in Industry News, News

Gail Keirn, APHIS Legislative and Public Affairs (970-266-6007)

USDA Expands Research on Larger Dog Breeds for Use in Livestock Protection

Taking on an adult grizzly bear or a pack of wolves is a lot to ask of a livestock protection dog, but it’s a task they willingly take to protect their herds from predation. For centuries, livestock protection dogs have helped ranchers protect livestock from coyotes, feral dogs, foxes, and mountain lions. Without them, thousands of sheep, lambs, and calves would be killed or injured each year.

Livestock protection dogs grow up and live with their herd, patrolling the perimeters of grazing areas to ward of potential predators. Now, with the recovery and expansion of populations of grizzly bears and wolves, current breeds of livestock protection dogs— like the Great Pyrenees, Komondors, and Akbash— are losing many of the fights. They are no match for these larger predators.

To help producers in western States cope with the rising number of large carnivores on the landscape, USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS) program and its research arm the National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) are leading an effort to identify more suitable breeds of livestock protection dogs. In 2013, NWRC researchers began a multi-year study to determine the effectiveness of larger, more assertive European dog breeds at protecting livestock from grizzly bears and wolves in Idaho and Montana. WS Deputy Administrator William Clay recently directed that this project be expanded to Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

“Finding suitable dog breeds for use as livestock protection dogs against wolves and bears not only helps us safeguard livestock and the livelihoods of ranchers, but also enhances and encourages coexistence between people and large predators” states Deputy Administrator Clay.

Researchers and their partners are importing young Kangal, Karakachan, and Cão de Gado Transmontano dogs from Europe and placing them with producers to acclimate and bond to sheep. The dogs’ movements and behaviors are monitored using global position system (GPS) collars and direct observations. Care is taken to monitor for negative behaviors in the dogs, such as aggression towards other dogs, livestock, or humans or an inability to bond to livestock. Data is also being gathered on wolf and grizzly bear activities and movements in the study areas. Researchers hope to learn whether the European breeds can protect livestock from wolves and bears while also exhibiting appropriate temperaments for living with livestock in pens and on open lands.

Large carnivores, such as wolves and grizzly bears, were rare in the 1980s and ‘90s when WS first published its research and guidance on the use of livestock protection dogs. For more information on livestock protection dogs, please visit the following:


USDA Makes Long-Term Ag Projections

on Feb 14 in Industry News, News

Despite lower prices for many agricultural products in the near future, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is projecting U.S. farm income to remain historically high through 2023. Analysis for the report was conducted prior to completion of the Agricultural Act of 2014, and was based on the assumption of continuation of policies in the 2008 Farm Bill. Projections range from long-term economic growth, global production and consumption trends, global trade trends, commodity prices, farm income and more.

USDA projects global economic growth to average 3.2 percent annually over the next decade, with stronger growth projected in developing countries, including China, India and countries in Africa and Latin America. The U.S. economic growth is projected to average 2.6 percent over the next decade.

“Steady global economic growth supports longer term gains in world food demand, global agricultural trade and U.S. agricultural exports,” according to the report.

While prices for many of the major crops are projected to decline in the next few years, long-term growth in global demand, a low-valued U.S. dollar and demand for biofuel, will hold prices for corn, oilseeds and other major crops above pre-2007 levels, according to the report.

As a result of recovering from high feed prices in recent years and drought, USDA is projecting livestock production and per capital red meat consumption to increase through 2023.

The full report is available at

Is a cow eating my lunch?

on Feb 14 in Industry News, News

From American Sheep Industry Association newsletter:

Consumers have increasing questions about animal agriculture and whether it’s good or bad. Some are concerned that animal agriculture takes away human food supplies and wastes resources.

To help answer related questions and help consumers learn about the role animals can have in a healthy diet, the Council for  Agricultural Science and Technology has released a new video based on its Issue Paper Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050.

The paper addresses the commonly heard argument that livestock compete with humans for food resources, thus providing support for the continued existence of livestock production. It also addresses the knowledge gap that currently exists as to the quantity of human feed and fiber by-products used within animal agriculture.

The paper and video are available at

Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research

on Feb 12 in Industry News, News

FFAR Authorization, PLUS $200 million in MANDATORY Dollars

Go here for full details.

As noted last week the Farm Bill does include authorization for a Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research.  This is a new collaborative opportunity to fund research. The following provides insights on the Congressional intent for the new effort.  An important note near the end is that ” the Managers do not intend in any way for the Foundation’s funding to offset or allow for a reduction in the appropriated dollars that go to agricultural research.”  It will be important for animal agriculture to be actively involved with FFAR to assure that this is intent is realized.

FFAR Excerpt from Statement of Managers, Title VII (56) Foundation for food and agriculture research

The Senate amendment authorizes a foundation for food and agriculture research, a new nonprofit corporation designed to supplement USDA’s basic and applied research activities. On Oct. 1, 2013, of the funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Secretary shall transfer to the Foundation $200,000,000 to remain available until expended. (Section 7601)

The House bill contains no comparable provision.

The Conference substitute adopts the Senate provision with an amendment. The amendment authorizes a foundation for food and agricultural research designed to supplement USDA’s basic and applied research activities and $200,000,000 of Commodity Credit Corporation funding to the Foundation to remain available until expended. (Section 7601)

The Managers recognize the significant need for agricultural research and the challenge to find funding in the current fiscal environment. As such the conference substitute creates a new non-profit foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, to leverage private funding, matched with federal dollars, to support public agricultural research. This approach will foster continued innovation in agricultural research.

The increased productivity and boost in crop yields experienced by American farmers can be attributed to research investments made 30 to 50 years ago. Federal investment in public agricultural research has been trending downward at a time when the demands of a growing population require that American agriculture research again take a leading role in pushing forward food production. USDA, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation and agricultural research stakeholders will play an integral role in establishing the Foundation.

The Managers do not intend for the Foundation to be duplicative of current funding or research efforts, but rather to foster public-private partnerships among the agricultural research community, including federal agencies, academia, non-profit organizations, corporations and individual donors to identify and prioritize the most pressing needs facing agriculture. It is the Managers view that the Foundation will complement the work of USDA basic and applied research activities and further advance USDA’s research mission. Furthermore, the Managers do not intend in any way for the Foundation’s funding to offset or allow for a reduction in the appropriated dollars that go to agricultural research.