The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is accepting comments through June 3 on a proposed rule that would establish standards allowing APHIS to recognize compartments for animal disease status. These proposed standards would provide a tool that may be used to preserve international trade when regionalization is not feasible.

APHIS states that compartmentalization is a procedure that a country may implement to define and manage animal subpopulations of distinct health status and under common biosecurity management within its territory for the purpose of disease control and international trade. It is distinct from regionalization, which involves the recognition of geographical zones of a country that can be identified and characterized by their level of risk for different diseases, but the two are not mutually exclusive.

Under this proposed rule, when a foreign government submits a request for recognition of a compartment, APHIS would conduct a disease risk assessment based on a list of eight factors that closely parallel those it uses when conducting regionalization evaluations and would provide for public notice of and comment on the risk assessment. APHIS would also add provisions for imposing import restrictions and/or prohibitions when a compartment it has recognized as disease-free experiences an outbreak and for lifting those sanctions once the outbreak has been controlled.

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