The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is proposing to revise the bovine tuberculosis- and brucellosis-related import requirements for cattle and bison to make these requirements clearer and assure that they more effectively mitigate the risk of introducing these diseases into the United States. Comments are due no later than March 15, 2016.

Bovine tuberculosis is a contagious and infectious disease that is typically found in cattle but has also been reported in several other species of livestock as well as other domestic and non-domestic animals and humans. Brucellosis is a contagious disease that mainly affects cattle, bison and swine but to which goats, sheep, horses and humans are also susceptible. Regulatory efforts have proven successful in significantly reducing the prevalence of these diseases in the U.S. but several risk factors have arisen in recent years, including that cattle producers are increasingly relying on imported cattle to supplement domestically raised stock.

APHIS states that the proposed rule would remove most of the brucellosis- and bovine tuberculosis-specific requirements for the importation of cattle and bison from the existing regulations and instead establish a system modeled on the domestic requirements that would classify a region of the world based on both its brucellosis or bovine tuberculosis prevalence and whether it has a program for brucellosis or bovine tuberculosis that meets certain standards. The classifications would be level I through V for bovine tuberculosis and level I through III for brucellosis. The regulations would allow regions to request evaluation for a particular classification, establish a process by which APHIS would evaluate such requests, and allow APHIS to lower a region’s classification based on emerging evidence. Finally, the proposed rule would establish conditions for the importation of cattle and bison that correspond to the classification of the region from which the cattle or bison will be exported.

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