U.S. removes BSE-era restrictions on sheep and goat imports; will add scrapie-specific rules

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is set to publish a new rule that will allow the importation of live goat, sheep, and other ruminants, 30 days from December 12, 2021, provided they meet new regulatory requirements.

The existing rule has been in effect following the 2003 finding of BSE in a Canadian cow, stopping the movement of live sheep and goats over the age of 12 months.

Currently, only the importation of non-pregnant slaughter or feeder sheep under 12 months old from Canada, certain products from sheep and goats, and sheep and goat semen, are allowed into the U.S. from Canada.

Though sheep and goats do not carry BSE, they can be infected with a similar transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, scrapie.

“We are amending the regulations to remove BSE-related import restrictions on sheep and goats and most of their products because they are no longer warranted, and to add import restrictions related to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) for certain wild, zoological, or other non-bovine ruminant species because those animals pose a risk of introducing or spreading BSE or other TSEs,” APHIS says in its filing.

In the place of BSE-specific restrictions, the U.S. will establish a framework for evaluating “foreign regions and, as warranted, foreign flocks for scrapie status.” The framework may include: testing and establishing scrapie status, animal identification and traceability, record keeping for a specific period of time, and permitting.

The U.S. estimates the border re-opening will result in an annual net benefit of about US$15.1 million.

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