The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the Agriculture Department’s proposal to align U.S. risk standards for bovine spongiform encephalopathy with the system used by the World Organization for Animal Health, the organization said in comments submitted Monday to the department.
Under the proposed rule USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would adopt the same criteria and categories OIE uses to identify a country’s BSE risk status. The OIE risk categories are negligible, controlled and undetermined risk. APHIS would base its import policy of bovines and bovine products from a particular country on that country’s risk classification, as determined by OIE’s risk evaluation, as long as certain conditions are met, such as the removal of specified risk materials.
The rule allows the importation of boneless beef from any country meeting food safety equivalency standards, and places the tightest restrictions on countries with the highest risk of BSE. “The proposed rule will allow the U.S. to trade base decisions on beef imports on the actual risk of BSE,” Farm Bureau wrote.
The rule would also allow APHIS to conduct its own assessment when deemed necessary, such as when a country is not yet classified by the OIE for BSE risk and requests that APHIS conduct a risk evaluation using criteria equivalent to that used by OIE.
Farm Bureau “supports this proposed rule as an international harmonization of veterinary health rules that will improve and expand trade in animal products,” the group said.