The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has published the final criteria the agency will use to evaluate and recognize livestock compartments in other countries.
According to APHIS, compartmentalization is "an important tool animal health officials can use to protect against disease spread and support continued trade during a disease outbreak."
The livestock or poultry within a compartment are managed using consistent, strict biosecurity and health practices and are kept separate from other populations of animals, which "reassures trading partners that there is a minimal risk of those compartmentalized animals spreading disease," APHIS explained.
When disease strikes, unaffected compartments are still eligible for international trade. More importantly, recognizing compartments in other countries makes it more likely that APHIS will be successful as it works with other countries to recognize compartments during an outbreak in the U.S., the agency said.
The evaluation criteria for compartmentalization are similar to what APHIS already uses for regionalization requests, with slight changes to account for the differences between regions and compartments, the agency said. The criteria are:
- Scope of evaluation requested;
- Veterinary control and oversight of the compartment;
- Disease history and vaccination practices;
- Livestock or poultry commodity movement and traceability;
- Epidemiologic separation of the compartment from potential sources of infection;
- Disease surveillance;
- Diagnostic laboratory capabilities, and
- Emergency preparedness and response capabilities.
Using this information, along with site visits from APHIS animal health experts, APHIS will determine whether the animals within the compartment are managed in a way that keeps them distinct and separate from other animal populations within the country, the announcement noted.
APHIS received seven comments on the proposed rule during the 60-day public comment period, all of which supported this rule. As a result, APHIS made no changes to the proposed rule.
The rule was published in the Feb. 28 Federal Register and becomes effective 30 days after publication, i.e., March 30.