[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 223 (Thursday, November 19, 1998)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 64173-64175]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-30973]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

9 CFR Parts 93, 94, and 130

[Docket No. 98-070-3]


Closure of Harry S Truman Animal Import Center

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We are closing the Harry S Truman Animal Import Center 
(HSTAIC) and amending the animal import regulations to remove all 
provisions related to HSTAIC. The facility, which has been used for 
high risk imports, such as ruminants from countries where foot-and-
mouth disease exists, has been chronically under used and has never 
generated enough revenue to be self-sufficient.

EFFECTIVE DATE: December 21, 1998.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Gary Colgrove, Chief Staff 
Veterinarian, National Center for Import and Export, VS, APHIS, 4700 
River Road Unit 38, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 734-3276; or e-
mail: gary.s.colgrove@usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Harry S Truman Animal Import Center (HSTAIC) is an offshore, 
maximum biosecurity animal import facility owned and operated by the 
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the 
United States Department of Agriculture. It is the only facility of its 
kind in the United States.
    On August 10, 1998, we published in the Federal Register (63 FR 
42593-42596, Docket No. 98-070-2) a proposal to close HSTAIC and amend 
the animal import regulations in 9 CFR parts 93 and 94, and the user 
fee regulations in 9 CFR part 130, to remove all provisions related to 
HSTAIC.
    We solicited comments concerning our proposal for 60 days ending 
October 9, 1998. We received three comments by that date. One was from 
an individual; the other two from industry associations.
    One comment, from an industry association, was completely 
supportive of our proposal to close HSTAIC.
    The other industry association comment agreed that HSTAIC needs to 
close, but voiced two concerns.
    The first concern was that there will be greater incentive to 
smuggle llamas and alpacas into Chile from other regions, with the risk 
that foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) or new diseases would appear in 
Chile. Chile is currently free of FMD, while other regions in South 
America are not. Llamas and alpacas from Chile can enter the United 
States without having to go through quarantine in HSTAIC. Without 
HSTAIC, llamas and alpacas from regions where FMD exists would not be 
directly imported into the United States.
    We believe this situation is unlikely to lead to more smuggling of 
animals into FMD- and rinderpest-free regions, such as Chile. Since 
HSTAIC was dedicated in 1979, only 11 shipments of imported camelids 
have been quarantined in the facility. Demand for llamas and other 
camelids in the United States is now shrinking. As demand shrinks, so 
does the incentive for smuggling animals. Under these circumstances, we 
believe there is no significant risk.
    The commenter's second concern was that any alternative high 
security import facility maintain high standards for safety and humane 
care. We agree completely. We are considering alternatives for 
importing ruminants and swine from regions where FMD or rinderpest 
exists. No alternative would be acceptable if high standards for safety 
and humane care were not included.
    One comment objected to our proposal to close HSTAIC. The commenter 
stated: (1) The United States needs to have a facility like HSTAIC, and 
the facility should not have to be self-sustaining; (2) we should 
modify HSTAIC just enough to keep it operational, and make major 
renovations and repairs later; and (3) we underestimated the cost of 
closing HSTAIC.
    As we explained in our proposed rule (see 63 FR 42593), under the 
statute authorizing HSTAIC, the facility was intended to be self-
sustaining. Unfortunately, this has never happened. Demand to use 
HSTAIC has never been high enough to make it self-supporting. Demand is 
now falling. Instead of live animals, germplasm--embryos and semen--is 
now imported for breeding. Under these circumstances, we do not believe 
HSTAIC is needed. Industry representatives appear to agree; both 
comments we received from industry associations supported our proposal 
to close the facility.
    We could delay closing HSTAIC, as the commenter suggested. The 
State of Florida has extended our sewage permit until August, 2003 
(this action took place after our proposed rule was published). 
However, the longer we delay closing the facility, the longer our 
operating losses will continue, and the more it will cost to close the 
facility. If the commenter is correct, that we have underestimated the 
cost to close the facility, then it is even more important that we act 
quickly to minimize our losses. To do this, we must close HSTAIC as 
soon as possible.
    Therefore, for the reasons given in the proposed rule and in this 
document, we are adopting the proposed rule as a final rule.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12866. The rule 
has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive 
Order 12866 and, therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of 
Management and Budget.
    HSTAIC is a maximum-security APHIS animal import center that 
provides quarantine services for animals which would otherwise be 
excluded because they are being imported directly from countries where 
high-risk diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), rinderpest, 
African swine fever, hog cholera, and swine vesicular disease are

[[Page 64174]]

found. HSTAIC was designed to be a self-supporting facility, to as 
great a degree as possible, with costs defrayed by charges to the 
importers of the animals who use the facility. However, this has not 
been the case. Instead, the facility has been underused and has never 
generated enough revenue to be self-sufficient.
    Vital repairs and maintenance of the facility and its equipment has 
been accomplished by the use of agency funds that would otherwise have 
been directed toward pest eradication efforts. However, these costly 
short term repairs and maintenance have not been adequate to upgrade 
the facility. Regulations concerning the use of the facility were 
revised in the early 1990's so that any user of HSTAIC for a single 
animal importation would be responsible for paying all related costs, 
except capital expenses, incurred in qualifying and quarantining the 
imported animals at HSTAIC, but the deficit has persisted. At 
inception, a strong demand was projected for breeding stock in order to 
import strains of livestock that had specific traits needed for 
improving U.S. domestic breeds, particularly cattle from high disease-
risk countries. However, after the first six imports, this had not 
occurred. The facility has not had the optimal three imports in any 
year and money for capital expenditures has not been appropriated. 
Therefore, we are closing the facility and removing from the CFR the 
current regulations concerning HSTAIC. Under the terms of this rule, 
the Center will not accept animals for quarantine after December 31, 
1998, and APHIS will enter into an agreement with a prospective 
importer for final exclusive use of the facility only if it is certain 
that the animals will enter the Center on or before that date.
    Since HSTAIC was dedicated in 1979 there have been 21 ruminant and 
swine importations. The first imports (cattle from Brazil) were 
released in July 1980. A total of 6,713 animals have been quarantined 
and released during this period, including cattle (633), swine (574), 
sheep and goats (460) and camelids (5,046). Several countries in Latin 
America (Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Peru), Europe (France, Germany), 
Asia (China), and Africa (South Africa) were the sources of the 
imports. Of these, Chile, France and Germany are now recognized as FMD 
free. Certain regions in South Africa are also in the process of being 
recognized as free. The first six imports were cattle (3 from Brazil 
and 3 from Europe). Camelids have accounted for 11 imports (5 from 
Bolivia, 1 from Chile/Brazil and 5 from Peru). There have been three 
imports of swine (1 from China, 1 from France and 1 from Germany), and 
one import of sheep and goats (from South Africa). Eight out of the 
nine most recent imports have been camelids.
    The above total, 21 imports in nearly 20 years, has fallen short of 
the anticipated three shipments of animals per year. Based on three 
months of isolation at the center for each group and one month between 
shipments for cleaning and disinfecting, with full use, there should 
have been 57 imports handled through HSTAIC. Furthermore, the size of 
individual imports has been smaller than the capacity of the facility, 
and thus importers have failed to take advantage of economies of scale, 
which would have reduced the per animal cost of using the facility, as 
costs per animal are lower as numbers increase. The capacity of the 
facility is about 400, plus sentinel animals. (This designation is for 
cattle. For smaller animals, such as sheep and goats, even larger 
numbers can be accommodated). Only 6,713 animals were actually imported 
and quarantined during the entire 21 years. The potential number should 
have been more than 22,800 animals.
    The quarantine process is costly regardless of numbers, and is paid 
entirely by the importers. The average fee for the last 10 imports has 
been $1,920 (or $16 per day) per head. Each selected applicant has 
exclusive rights to use HSTAIC for the importation during the 
quarantine period and is responsible for paying all costs, excluding 
capital expenditure, incurred in qualifying and quarantining the 
specified animals through HSTAIC. A partial list of costs includes: 
expense for sentinel animals, laboratory tests, medical treatment, 
official travel by APHIS personnel, courier services to transport test 
samples to the Foreign Agricultural Disease Diagnostic Laboratory 
(FADDL), salaries of HSTAIC personnel, all supplies needed for animal 
care, maintenance, and testing and the post-quarantining cleaning and 
disinfection of HSTAIC, as well as utilities and overhead, including 
salaries and benefits of support staff. The operational cost of an 
average importation is high--between $750,000 and $1 million per import 
period. This cost would likely have increased, if the center remained 
open, since substantial infrastructure repairs are needed immediately 
and there is an ever-increasing requirement to maintain the aging 
facility. Expenses charged to selected importers vary by importation 
depending on the kind and number of animals in each shipment, and the 
country of origin.
    Since operating costs while the facility is in use are charged 
entirely to the importers, if HSTAIC were fully utilized (that is, 
housing three importations during each year), it could probably be 
nearly self-supporting. However, due to underutilization, the minimum 
operating budget must cover costs borne by the facility in the absence 
of animal shipments. The facility has never had three imports in a 
single year since its opening. In fact, no quarantines at all occurred 
for two years (1986 and 1990), two imports each for only three years 
(1993, 1996 and 1998), and the remaining years have had only one import 
each year. Thus, up to two-thirds of operational costs have had to be 
covered from agency funds. During a non-used year, approximately 
$390,000 had to be allocated, from the agency budget, just to maintain 
the facility. In a partial-use year the deficits ranged between 
$130,000 and $260,000. Over the duration of the facility, the agency 
has diverted approximately $4 million in nominal dollars, or about $6.4 
million in 1998 dollars, for operational expenditures to keep the 
facility ready for very few users.
    These deficit amounts do not reflect the depreciation of the 
component parts of the facility and of replacement needs. While the 
property presently has no other purpose except maintaining readiness 
for the small number of importers of special livestock from countries 
that are not free from FMD, equipment, supplies and the physical plant 
still lose their value, whether with disuse or use, as they wear out or 
become obsolete. Furthermore, as the facility has aged, maintaining the 
building in useable condition has required more frequent upgrading of 
its components, which have varying degrees of life expectancy. The 
annual adjusted depreciation value of the various physical components 
of the facility is approximately $93,776 (obtained by straight line 
depreciation of all replaceable assets and equipment whose useful life 
is still active) or about $257/day. This is the cost of depreciation 
the facility has been incurring annually even with full use, the amount 
that should have been collected for the purpose of upgrading equipment. 
By initially excluding capital expenditures from the fee structure, the 
agency forfeited the opportunity to charge users approximately $1.8 
million in nominal dollars (or about $2.4 million in 1998 dollars) that 
it could have been collecting over the entire period. Overall, the 
operational deficits and the capital expenditures have accounted for

[[Page 64175]]

about $8.8 million. If the facility were kept open, the agency would 
continue to incur similar losses, with only slight relief if these 
costs were prorated and added to user fees.
    The agency has already spent over $1 million in the last five years 
to repair and modify an incinerator, test emissions, and replace stack 
pipes, in an effort to meet standards set by the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Environmental 
Protection (FDEP). Attempting to keep this aging facility in compliance 
with EPA/FDEP standards would continue to be expensive for the agency. 
(These needed repairs include repairing and upgrading the facility's 
wastewater treatment facility; replacing a generator, an incinerator, 
the roof, and underground fuel storage tanks; and upgrading the fire 
suppression/alarm and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning 
systems.) Currently about $4.5 million are needed to make the most 
urgently needed repairs. Closing the facility will make this 
unnecessary. The money and human resources needed to keep this facility 
operating can be diverted to other programs that play a more important 
role in protecting the United States against animal disease incursions. 
The cost of closing the facility, about $1 million, will be offset by 
the future saving the agency will realize.
    Closure of the facility will not impact a substantial number of 
importers, because most importers do not use HSTAIC. Despite the 
original expectation that cattle and swine would be the predominant 
imports, over the last six years the facility has been used mainly by 
importers of llamas and alpacas. Using public funds in the maintenance 
of a facility that serves only specific importers places an undo burden 
on tax payers. This action is not expected to have a negative economic 
impact on this small number of entities, which can still import 
camelids into the United States from Chile and other countries, which 
are recognized as FMD free. The facility closure should produce 
positive budgetary impact for the agency.
    Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and 
Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this action will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.

Executive Order 12988

    This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. This rule: (1) Preempts all State and local laws 
and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule; (2) has no 
retroactive effect; and (3) does not require administrative proceedings 
before parties may file suit in court challenging this rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule contains no information collection or recordkeeping 
requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 
et seq.).

Lists of Subjects

9 CFR Part 93

    Animal diseases, Imports, Livestock, Poultry and poultry products, 
Quarantine, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

9 CFR Part 94

    Animal diseases, Imports, Livestock, Meat and meat products, Milk, 
Poultry and poultry products, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

9 CFR Part 130

    Animals, Birds, Diagnostic reagents, Exports, Imports, Poultry and 
poultry products, Quarantine, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Tests.

    Accordingly, we are amending 9 CFR parts 93, 94 and 130 as follows:

PART 93--IMPORTATION OF CERTAIN ANIMALS, BIRDS, AND POULTRY, AND 
CERTAIN ANIMAL, BIRD, AND POULTRY PRODUCTS; REQUIREMENTS FOR MEANS 
OF CONVEYANCE AND SHIPPING CONTAINERS

    1. The authority citation for part 93 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1622; 19 U.S.C. 1306; 21 U.S.C. 102-105, 
111, 114a, 134a, 134b, 134c, 134d, 134f, 136, and 136a; 31 U.S.C. 
9701; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.2(d).

Secs. 93.430 and 93.431  [Removed and reserved]

    2. In part 93, Secs. 93.430 and 93.431 are removed and reserved.


Secs. 93.522 and 93.523  [Removed]

    3. In part 93, Secs. 93.522 and 93.523 are removed.

PART 94--RINDERPEST, FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE, FOWL PEST (FOWL 
PLAGUE), EXOTIC NEWCASTLE DISEASE, AFRICAN SWINE FEVER, HOG 
CHOLERA, AND BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY: PROHIBITED AND 
RESTRICTED IMPORTATIONS.

    4. The authority citation for part 94 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 147a, 150ee, 161, 162, and 450; 19 U.S.C. 
1306; 21 U.S.C. 111, 114a, 134a, 134b, 134c, 134f, 136, and 135a; 31 
U.S.C. 9701; 42 U.S.C. 4331 and 4332; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 
371.2(d).

Sec. 94.1  [Amended]

    5. In Sec. 94.1, paragraph (b)(2) is removed and paragraphs (b)(3) 
and (b)(4) are redesignated as paragraphs (b)(2) and(b)(3), 
respectively.

PART 130--USER FEES

    6. The authority citation for part 130 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5542; 7 U.S.C. 1622; 19 U.S.C. 1306; 21 
U.S.C. 102-105, 111, 114, 114a, 134a, 134c, 134d, 134f, 136, and 
136a, 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.2(d).

Sec. 130.1  [Amended]

    7. In Sec. 130.1, the definition of Animal Import Center is amended 
by removing the last sentence.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 12th day of November 1998.
Joan M. Arnoldi,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 98-30973 Filed 11-18-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P