[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 162 (Tuesday, August 23, 2005)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 49200-49207]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-16689]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 162 / Tuesday, August 23, 2005 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 49200]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

9 CFR Part 94

[Docket No. 04-083-1]


Add Argentina to the List of Regions Considered Free of Exotic 
Newcastle Disease

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We are proposing to amend the regulations by adding Argentina 
to the list of regions considered free of exotic Newcastle disease. We 
have conducted a risk evaluation and have determined that Argentina has 
met our requirements for being recognized as free of this disease. This 
proposed action would eliminate certain restrictions on the importation 
into the United States of poultry and poultry products from Argentina. 
We would also add Argentina to the list of regions that, although 
declared free of exotic Newcastle disease, must provide an additional 
certification to confirm that any poultry or poultry products offered 
for importation into the United States originate in a region free of 
exotic Newcastle disease and that, prior to importation into the United 
States, such poultry or poultry products were not commingled with 
poultry or poultry products from regions where exotic Newcastle disease 
exists.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before 
October 24, 2005.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     EDOCKET: Go to http://www.epa.gov/feddocket to submit or 
view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the 
official public docket, and to access those documents in the public 
docket that are available electronically. Once you have entered 
EDOCKET, click on the ``View Open APHIS Dockets'' link to locate this 
document.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send four copies 
of your comment (an original and three copies) to Docket No. 04-083-1, 
Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 
River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your 
comment refers to Docket No. 04-083-1.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://
www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions for locating this 
docket and submitting comments.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on this 
docket in our reading room. The reading room is located in room 1141 of 
the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to 
help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.
    Other Information: You may view APHIS documents published in the 
Federal Register and related information on the Internet at http://
www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. David Nixon, Case Manager, 
Regionalization Evaluation Services, National Center for Import and 
Export, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 38, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; 
(301) 734-4356.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The regulations in 9 CFR part 94 (referred to below as the 
regulations) govern the importation into the United States of specified 
animals and animal products in order to prevent the introduction of 
various animal diseases, including exotic Newcastle disease (END). END 
is a contagious, infectious, and communicable disease of birds and 
poultry. Section 94.6 of the regulations provides that END is 
considered to exist in all regions of the world except those listed in 
Sec.  94.6(a)(2), which are considered to be free of END.
    The Government of Argentina has requested that APHIS evaluate 
Argentina's animal health status with respect to END and provided 
information in support of that request in accordance with 9 CFR part 
92, ``Importation of Animals and Animal Products: Procedures for 
Requesting Recognition of Regions.''

Risk Evaluation

    Using information submitted to us by the Government of Argentina 
through the animal health officials of the National Health and Agrifood 
Quality Service (El Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad 
Agroalimentaria, SENASA), as well as information gathered during site 
visits by APHIS staff to Argentina in June and December of 2003, we 
have reviewed and analyzed the animal health status of Argentina 
relative to END. The review and analysis were conducted in light of the 
factors identified in Sec.  92.2, ``Application for recognition of the 
animal health status of a region,'' which are used to evaluate the risk 
associated with importing animals or animal products into the United 
States from a given region. Based on the information submitted to us, 
we have concluded the following:

Veterinary Infrastructure

    All animal disease and control programs in Argentina operate under 
the General Animal Health Enforcement Law (Law No. 3959/1903). Under 
this law, SENASA has passed several resolutions specifically pertaining 
to the control and surveillance of END, including SENASA's resolutions 
to secure Argentina's compliance with the European Union (EU) 
requirements for the importation of poultry. SENASA is divided into 
several sections, four of which focus on animal health issues. In 2003, 
SENASA had a budget of approximately $39 million U.S. dollars and 
employed 572 veterinarians.
    In 2001 and 2002, SENASA was reorganized to increase the agency's 
quality of response to animal disease control and eradication. This 
reorganization, which occurred after the foot-and-mouth disease 
outbreak in 2001, involved centralizing authority, examining 
international standards and certification requirements, and increasing 
efficiency and transparency through internal monitoring, 
accountability, and increased compliance with national policies. The 
new structure of SENASA includes 25 regional offices and 316 field 
offices throughout Argentina. The regional offices are responsible for 
overseeing the

[[Page 49201]]

field offices, which monitor local prevention and control measures, 
census information, eradication, compliance, emergency actions, health 
actions, premises identification, movement controls, and recordkeeping.
    In order to monitor poultry in Argentina, SENASA requires that all 
premises with commercial poultry register with SENASA and obtain a 
unique alphanumeric identifier called a RENSPA (Regestrio Nacional 
Sanitario de Productores Agropecuarios, National Sanitary Registry of 
Ag-Producers) number. The RENSPA number identifies the province, 
municipality, premises, and certain characteristics of the facility 
from which the animal came, such as facility ownership. The RENSPA 
number is used to maintain a database that includes census information, 
animal movement permit information, and the END status of the premises. 
SENASA reports that compliance with RENSPA registration is high. 
Although RENSPA registration is not specifically required for backyard 
poultry flocks, SENASA believes that these flocks do not pose a major 
threat of END as these birds are intended primarily for home 
consumption rather than for exportation.
    RENSPA applications also must include the name of the veterinarian 
who serves the premises. This veterinarian is required by law to report 
any animal health problems occurring on the premises. If the 
veterinarian or the owner fails to report, the owner can be 
disqualified from collecting indemnity under the indemnity program 
explained in the ``Passive Surveillance'' section below. Also, a fine 
may be collected from either the veterinarian or the premises owner.
    The results of our evaluation indicate that animal health officials 
in Argentina have the legal authority to enforce Federal and State 
regulations pertaining to END and the necessary veterinary 
infrastructure to carry out END surveillance and control activities.

Disease History and Surveillance

    The first diagnosis of END in Argentina occurred in 1961. Since 
that time, there have been four additional outbreaks--one in 1966, one 
in 1970, and two in 1987. In 1967, the Argentine Government made END 
reporting mandatory. Argentina has not recorded an outbreak of END in 
domestic poultry flocks since October 1987; however, in 1999 a virulent 
strain of paramyxovirus type-1 was isolated from wild pigeons. This 
discovery in the wild pigeon population was not considered to be an 
imminent threat to commercial poultry flocks as general industry 
practice includes vaccinating commercial birds against END (as 
described below in the ``Vaccination Status'' section) and keeping 
these birds in enclosed buildings that separate them from wild birds.
    The August 1987 outbreak occurred in four backyard premises and 
affected approximately 300 hens. This infection was discovered when 
unvaccinated backyard birds were at an exhibition and began to show END 
symptoms. Other birds at the exhibition site became infected, but the 
Argentine Government controlled the spread through slaughter and 
disinfection. The outbreak in October 1987, the origin of which is 
unknown, affected 180,000 commercial broiler birds housed at 9 poultry 
farms. In addition to slaughter and disinfection, the government also 
used vaccination, collection of blood samples for serum testing, 
necropsy of all animals dying on neighboring premises within a radius 
of 25 km for the following 35 days, and the application of stringent 
biosecurity measures such as access controls at farms and testing of 
wild birds.
Active Surveillance
    Argentina has had an active sampling program in place since 1996. 
This program is evaluated yearly and modifications to the plan are 
based on an annual risk assessment, the prior year's test results, and 
practicalities of testing such as cost and personnel availability. From 
1996 through 2001, SENASA biannually tested both commercial flocks and 
noncommercial flocks and took a large number of samples, which all were 
either negative for END or were positive with vaccine strains. For the 
2002-2004 active surveillance program, SENASA tested two target 
populations. The first population consisted of noncommercial bird 
flocks, including imported birds, birds found in the wild, and birds in 
zoos and backyards. The second group covered by the surveillance 
program consisted of testing commercial bird flocks including heavy and 
light breeding grandmother and parent birds, high-yielding hens, and 
commercial broilers.
    Currently, SENASA is working to update and expand its surveillance 
and control programs, including adding new standards for parent and 
grandparent facilities.
Passive Surveillance
    SENASA has a system in place through which government officials, 
veterinarians, producers, and the public can notify SENASA officials of 
potential outbreaks. After a potential or verified outbreak has been 
reported, SENASA officials must immediately investigate. SENASA also 
has the authority to inspect suspected premises or, if a search is 
refused, set up a quarantine on that particular premises. SENASA can 
then obtain a court order to inspect the premises. Finally, SENASA has 
emergency response mechanisms for health and sanitary measures, as well 
as ante-mortem and postmortem sanitary inspection of birds for 
slaughter. Minimum biosecurity and hygiene standards for poultry farms 
and treatment of poultry waste also exist.
    In addition, SENASA also compensates Argentine citizens when they 
report a case of END in their own flocks. Therefore, if an animal is 
found to have END and destroyed, the owner is entitled to indemnity for 
the fair market value of the animal. If an individual fails to report a 
case of END that is later discovered, indemnity is not paid. Although 
the indemnity program provides individuals with an incentive to report 
END, there is little communication with the public about this program 
and the site visit team discovered that producers were not aware of the 
program. Therefore, APHIS recommended that SENASA attempt to enhance 
public awareness of the program.
    Results of our evaluation indicate that authorities in Argentina 
are conducting an adequate level of END surveillance to detect the 
disease if it were present.

Diagnostic Capabilities

    In Argentina, the main laboratory conducting END testing is the 
central SENASA laboratory in Buenos Aires, which is supplemented by 
five network laboratories and the National Farming Technology Institute 
(Instituto Nacional de Tecnolog[iacute]a Agropecuaria, INTA). In 
addition, SENASA has indicated that additional experts or staff from 
various organizations could assist during outbreaks. The Coordinating 
Department of Quarantine, Borders, and Certifications sends import/
export samples to the laboratories between 1 and 3 days after the birds 
arrive in Argentina. The diagnostic process typically takes 15 to 20 
days.
    The central SENASA laboratory develops official testing protocols 
for the network laboratories, performs official tests of suspect END 
cases, conducts virus characterization studies on suspect isolates from 
the network laboratories, evaluates serological testing done by network 
laboratories, and oversees the use of avian vaccines. The laboratory 
has a barcoding system in place to track samples accurately and to 
allow for blind, unbiased testing. This

[[Page 49202]]

laboratory is in the final stages of a $3 million renovation and new 
construction project. The food sections of the central laboratory, 
including residues and food control, are accredited by the Argentine 
Accreditation Organization (Organismo Argentino de Acreditaci[oacute]n, 
OAA) under International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17025 
standards. During 2005, the laboratory is considering pursuing ISO 
17025 accreditation for the biological tests and analytical methods 
used for disease testing. Although training at this facility appears to 
be sporadic, the personnel assigned to the avian section are 
technically proficient and knowledgeable about END.
    The five network laboratories were developed in 1997 to conduct 
virus isolation for END to meet export requirements to the EU. The 
network laboratories are inspected yearly and must pass an annual 
proficiency test involving virus isolation in samples. The five network 
laboratories currently are suspended from official testing until they 
become accredited under ISO 17025 standards, but can continue to carry 
out certain tests that later can be validated by the central 
laboratory. In addition, the current demand for END testing is low 
enough that all testing can be performed at the central laboratory. If 
an emergency were to arise and additional testing was required, the 
network laboratories would assist the central laboratory with such 
tests.
    The INTA is a laboratory administered and funded separately from 
SENASA. The INTA provides technical services to SENASA for specific 
types of tests and is involved in testing wild birds for END and avian 
influenza virus. This lab also does all of the molecular tests needed 
by SENASA, which expects to perform these tests at network laboratories 
in the future.
    APHIS concluded that the laboratory capabilities and infrastructure 
in Argentina are sufficient to support the END surveillance activities.

Vaccination Status

    END vaccination in Argentina is mandatory for messenger pigeons 
only; all other END vaccinations are voluntary. SENASA estimates that 
approximately 80 percent of the poultry in Argentina is vaccinated 
based on vaccination schedules that have been put into place for 
production birds, breeding birds, and ornamental birds in markets and 
exhibitions. The 2003 site visit indicated that these schedules are 
identical or very similar to producers' vaccination regimens observed 
in farm records. This vaccination schedule leaves 20 percent of the 
poultry population to serve as sentinel birds along with certain 
broilers that are vaccinated only once in their first 14 days, which 
reduces their immunity to END later in life.
    Although backyard domestic fowl and exhibition birds usually are 
not vaccinated unless they participate in exhibitions or fairs, 
Argentina has tested this population and the results showed that all of 
the birds tested were either negative for END or tested positive for a 
vaccination strain of END.
    APHIS concluded that these vaccinated birds do not constitute a 
significant risk factor for introducing END into the United States.

Disease Status of Adjacent Regions

    Argentina is bordered by Paraguay in the north, Bolivia in the 
northwest, Uruguay and Brazil in the northeast, and Chile in the west. 
Chile is recognized by both APHIS and Argentina as END-free. Argentina 
also recognizes Uruguay as END-free. Brazil and Bolivia reported END 
outbreaks in 2001 and 2002, respectively, and therefore are not 
recognized as END-free by either the United States or Argentina.
    Because there have been recent END outbreaks in Brazil and Bolivia, 
APHIS proposes to add Argentina to the list in Sec.  94.26 of regions 
that, although declared free of END, supplement their meat supply by 
the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) poultry meat from regions 
designated in Sec.  94.6(a) as regions where END is considered to 
exist, have a common land border with regions where END is considered 
to exist, or import live poultry from regions where END is considered 
to exist under conditions less restrictive than would be acceptable for 
importation into the United States. Therefore, poultry and poultry 
products from Argentina would have to meet the additional certification 
requirements of Sec.  94.26 to be eligible for importation into the 
United States. These certification requirements are explained later in 
this document under the heading ``Certification Requirements.''

Degree of Separation From Adjacent Regions

    Argentina's western and southern borders are with Chile and are 
composed entirely of the Andean Mountain Range. The northern border of 
Argentina is shared with Bolivia and Paraguay. Approximately half of 
the Bolivian portion of the border runs along river coastlines, while 
the other half has no natural barriers. The border with Paraguay is 
comprised mostly of rivers; however, a small portion of the border has 
no natural barrier. Finally, the eastern border of Argentina is shared 
with Uruguay and Brazil. The border with Brazil consists mostly of 
river coastlines, with approximately 30 km of border with no natural 
barriers. The border with Uruguay is composed entirely of river 
coastlines.
    Although most of the Argentine border has adequate protection from 
adjacent countries through natural barriers, large areas on the borders 
with Bolivia and Paraguay and a small area on the border with Brazil 
may create the potential for END-infected animals to enter into 
Argentina from adjacent areas of high risk. In order to prevent this 
movement, effective movement controls must be in place.

Movement Controls and Biological Security

Import Controls
    All importations of live animals, genetic material, animal 
products, and animal byproducts into Argentina are allowed only under 
permits issued by SENASA. In order for other countries to export 
poultry and poultry products to Argentina, the potential exporting 
country must complete a review by SENASA consisting of a questionnaire 
and a site visit. Based on the results of the review, SENASA officials 
determine the types of animals and animal products that can enter 
Argentina and whether certain restrictions, such as a quarantine or 
testing, should be applied. Argentina also has limited or banned 
certain types of poultry from entering the country. Import procedures 
differ depending on the life stage of the poultry, and records are kept 
for all imported materials.
    Although Argentina does have a permit system, some importers 
attempt to bring poultry or poultry products into the country without a 
permit. Most of the permitting problems are associated with importation 
of ornamental pet birds. Commercial shipments of exotic birds are 
usually handled by five or six legitimate importers, all of whom are 
known to SENASA. That relationship enables SENASA to be aware of when 
permitted shipments are due to arrive; thus, when SENASA receives 
information concerning unscheduled shipments, it is in a better 
position to act on those shipments.
Export Controls
    Argentina's export requirements for poultry are based in large part 
on Argentina's compliance with the EU standards for exporting poultry. 
In order for poultry to be exported, it must come directly from 
commercial farms that

[[Page 49203]]

have chemical or drug withdrawal protocols and are held to strict 
sanitary and vaccination rules. These farms must be registered with 
various organizations and are subject to inspection by a veterinarian 
or by his or her appointed personnel. Any poultry taken to 
slaughterhouses for export must be identified properly and accompanied 
by proper health and movement certificates. Poultry must then be 
slaughtered at a slaughterhouse approved for export to the particular 
country of destination.
    SENASA does not control biosecurity at commercial facilities, which 
are likely to be the main source of poultry shipped to the United 
States. However, SENASA regulations address biosecurity standards and 
hygiene for avian establishments. Although these regulations do not 
appear to have an enforcement mechanism, compliance seems to be high. 
In addition, commercial birds are not likely to mix with other 
potentially infected birds as SENASA has indicated that Argentina does 
not have live markets with birds for sale for consumption. Also, in 
both urban and rural areas, backyard and non-commercial flocks are 
typically raised for home consumption only. These birds are considered 
unlikely to stray far from the home in rural areas because of carancho 
(local predator birds), and free-roaming birds in urban areas are 
likely to be picked up by other residents for consumption or sale.
    Argentina's main export to the United States would likely be 
poultry meat rather than live birds. Previous experience with END in 
the United States suggests that the importation of live birds presents 
a far more likely initial exposure pathway than poultry meat or 
products. However, if Argentina did choose to export live birds to the 
United States, these birds would have to be placed in a mandatory 30-
day quarantine upon their arrival. During this time, live birds would 
be tested for END and may be destroyed if the disease is found. The 30-
day time frame exceeds the incubation period for END, making it very 
unlikely that birds with END would enter into the United States 
undetected. In addition, these birds would have to meet the additional 
certification requirements as described below in the ``Certification 
Requirements'' section, further ensuring that birds entering the United 
States would be free of END.
    Given this information, APHIS did not identify any significant risk 
pathways to consider commercial poultry operations as a likely source 
for introducing END into the United States.

Movement Across Borders

    There are 45 authorized border stations in Argentina, including 
terrestrial stations, maritime and fluvial ports, and airports. These 
border stations are managed by SENASA's Quarantine, Borders, and 
Certifications unit. Each station is staffed by various security 
forces, who cooperate with SENASA under official agreements. Because 
these forces are the primary identifiers of illegal material, SENASA 
works to ensure that these individuals are trained to perform these 
duties. In addition, there are 394 permanent SENASA employees at border 
stations throughout Argentina.
    For air-based transportation of poultry and poultry products, the 
site visit team toured two airports: Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, 
which is the only airport through which live birds are transported, and 
Aeroparque Airport. Ezeiza is open 24 hours a day and has at least 
three to five veterinarians on staff during peak hours. If shipments 
arrive when the veterinarians are not present, the shipment must either 
wait until the veterinarians arrive or arrangements must be made in 
advance for a veterinarian to be present. Since 1999, Argentina has 
scanned all luggage entering the airports. In addition, beagle dogs 
have been trained to inspect luggage for both plant and animal 
products. To the extent possible, the dogs are scheduled to work when 
the riskiest flights are likely to arrive.
    When passengers arrive at an Argentine airport, they first must 
pass through immigration where signs listing prohibited items are 
conspicuously posted. The beagles are used while the passengers are 
collecting their luggage and if a beagle identifies a bag, the bag is 
marked for further inspection. Passengers then proceed to customs where 
they must declare any items on a form provided by customs officials. 
The bags are then scanned and any suspicious or marked bags are 
inspected by hand. Any confiscated avian material is chemically treated 
to inactivate the END virus and is buried in a landfill. Approximately 
2 tons of plant and animal material are confiscated at Ezeiza per 
month.
    There are 21 land ports in Argentina: 6 on the border with Chile, 3 
on the border with Uruguay, 6 on the border with Brazil, 3 on the 
border with Paraguay, and 3 on the border with Bolivia. Permanent 
SENASA personnel are stationed at each port along with the other 
officials described above. Usually, bags are searched manually; 
however, some of the land-based ports have scanners capable of 
detecting organic material for use during high traffic hours. For large 
shipments through Iguaz[uacute], SENASA officials must be notified 15 
days in advance and can reject the shipment if the documentation is 
incomplete or appears to be fraudulent. All exporters and importers 
must be registered with SENASA, and the shipment must be accompanied by 
a permit. The shipment information is then entered into a database. 
During the November 2003 site visit, the APHIS team visited several 
potentially risky border stations, such as the crossings between 
Argentina and Bolivia. There is heavy local traffic between these ports 
with many individuals carrying personal food supplies between 
countries, which are not likely to pose a significant risk to 
aviculture.
    Any illegal items found at border crossings are confiscated, 
sprayed with methylene blue or a similar solution to denature them, and 
incinerated. Each local office keeps records of interceptions for 2 
years. A review of records at several local offices indicated that 
there had been no interceptions of live birds and that avian products 
had been limited to eggs intended for local sale across the border or 
small amounts of chicken meat.
    After the land-based border checkpoints, there are also additional 
control points where vehicles, including passenger buses, are stopped 
and inspected. Only some of these checkpoints employ SENASA personnel, 
but all have some type of border surveillance personnel. Many of the 
border control points visited by APHIS staff have facilities to spray-
treat vehicles. These points are also located on roads where there are 
no alternative routes into the country, therefore ensuring that all 
vehicles would have to pass through these stations.
    For boat crossings, all of the crossings are staffed by customs 
officials and land forces, but not all have permanent SENASA staff. 
However, the workers are instructed to look for prohibited animal and 
plant substances.
    Smuggling is also a potential problem in Argentina. The amount of 
smuggling fluctuates depending on the local economy and the exchange 
rates between neighboring countries. Additionally, much of the material 
smuggled through ports such as Iguaz[uacute] and the Bolivian border 
stations is likely to be for local use instead of commercial trade and 
sale. In the past, SENASA officials have been able to discover illegal 
shipments and either destroy the animals or test them for END and 
release them once they were diagnosed as clean.

[[Page 49204]]

    Officials in Argentina have the authority, procedures, and 
infrastructure to enforce effectively the system of permits, 
inspection, quarantines, and treatments that the country has in place 
to control animals and animal products. APHIS did not identify any 
specific limitations in the system that might pose an END risk to the 
United States.

Livestock Demographics and Marketing Practices

    Aviculture is Argentina's second largest livestock production 
industry with 521,766 tons (over 260 million birds) of poultry meat 
production in 2002 and 687,653 tons (over 343 million birds) of 
production in 2001. The most recent census, which only covers the first 
months of 2003, indicate that there are over 96 million birds in 
Argentina, with most of the commercial poultry population (90 percent) 
contained in the Buenos Aires and Entre R[iacute]os provinces. This 
number is expected to increase as more broilers are hatched and raised 
for meat production throughout the year. These numbers are taken from 
RENSPA, the National Livestock Census, and information gathered from 
the poultry industry. Argentina has been exporting meat to the EU for 
several years. Disease control and surveillance programs are in place 
for poultry that specifically target END.
    Registration for farms and properties with birds fall into two 
categories: Commercial production farms or premises with birds. The 
commercial production farm category is further divided into 
reproduction farms, broilers, hatcheries, layers, other commercial bird 
farms (e.g. turkey, quail, etc.), and farms of organically raised 
chickens. For premises with birds, the category is divided into house 
birds kept mainly for consumption of meat or eggs by families, purebred 
birds routinely gathered at bird shows (including fighting birds, 
messenger pigeons, ornamental birds), and field birds produced semi-
intensively for consumption by their owners.
    For commercial birds, the number of birds per type of production is 
laid out in table 1. The commercial farms in Argentina typically are 
operated under a vertical integration system so that breeding flocks, 
incubating farms, broilers, feed mills, slaughter plants, and 
diagnostic laboratories all operate under the same company name. 
Commercial broiler production farms have an average of 4 to 5 barns, 
each with a bird population density of 10 to 12 birds per square meter. 
The birds are the same age at the farm so that when the birds are sent 
to slaughter, the barn is empty. Breeding farms have an average of 2 to 
3 barns, each with 4 to 5 females per male and 4 to 5 female birds per 
square meter. Again, the birds at the farm are the same age.
    APHIS did not identify any factors in this category that might pose 
an animal health risk to the United States if poultry or poultry 
products were to be imported from Argentina.

            Table 1.--Number of Birds per Type of Production
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Number of
                      Type of bird                             birds
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commercial broilers.....................................      70,000,000
Heavy breeding flocks...................................       3,300,000
High yielding hens......................................      18,000,000
Light breeding flocks...................................         500,000
High yielding stocking hens.............................       4,300,000
Turkeys.................................................         125,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Detection and Eradication of Disease

    END has been effectively controlled and eradicated from commercial 
poultry populations in Argentina. Although END still exists in the wild 
pigeon population, adequate controls are in place to ensure that spread 
to commercial flocks does not occur. The Argentine Government also has 
taken precautions following the END outbreaks in the 1980s and more 
recent FMD outbreaks to better protect the country from the 
introduction of animal diseases. Given the above information, APHIS 
considers the likelihood of an END outbreak occurring in Argentina to 
be low.

Certification Requirements

    As noted previously, we are proposing to add Argentina to the list 
of regions in Sec.  94.26 and therefore require further certification 
of the END-free status of any poultry or poultry products imported into 
the United States from Argentina. An END-free region may be added to 
this list when it supplements its meat supply with imports of fresh 
(chilled or frozen) poultry meat from a region where END is considered 
to exist; has a common land border with an END-affected region; or 
imports live poultry from an END-affected region under conditions less 
restrictive than would be acceptable for importation into the United 
States. As previously noted, Argentina shares land borders with Brazil 
and Bolivia, both of which have experienced recent END outbreaks. Thus, 
even though we are proposing to declare Argentina free of END, there is 
a risk that poultry or poultry products originating in Argentina may be 
commingled with poultry or poultry products originating in an END-
affected region.
    Adding Argentina to the list of regions in Sec.  94.26 would mean 
that live poultry, poultry meat and other poultry products, and ship 
stores, airplane meals, and baggage containing such meat or animal 
products originating in Argentina could not be imported into the United 
States unless the requirements described below were met. For all 
poultry and poultry products, each shipment would have to be 
accompanied by a certification by a full-time salaried veterinary 
officer of the Government of Argentina that would have to be presented 
to an authorized inspector at the port of arrival in the United States. 
The certification for live poultry would have to state that:
     The poultry have not been in contact with poultry or 
poultry products from any region where END is considered to exist;
     The poultry have not lived in a region where END is 
considered to exist; and
     The poultry have not transited through a region where END 
is considered to exist unless moved directly through the region in a 
sealed means of conveyance with the seal intact upon arrival at the 
point of destination.
    The certification accompanying poultry meat or other poultry 
products would have to state that:
     The poultry meat or other poultry products are derived 
from poultry that meet all requirements of Sec.  94.26 and that have 
been slaughtered in a region designated in Sec.  94.6 as free of END at 
a federally inspected slaughter plant that is under the direct 
supervision of a full-time salaried veterinarian of the national 
government of the exporting region and that is approved to export 
poultry meat and other poultry products to the United States in 
accordance with the regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in 9 CFR 381.196;
     The poultry meat or other poultry products have not been 
in contact with poultry meat or other poultry products from any region 
where END is considered to exist;
     The poultry meat or other poultry products have not 
transited through a region where END is considered to exist unless 
moved directly through the region in a sealed means of conveyance with 
the seal intact upon arrival at the point of destination; and
     If processed, the poultry meat or other poultry products 
were processed in a region designated in Sec.  94.6 as free of END in a 
federally inspected

[[Page 49205]]

processing plant that is under the direct supervision of a full-time 
salaried veterinarian of the Government of Argentina.
    Adding Argentina to the list of regions in Sec.  94.26 would 
necessitate several editorial changes to that section. Currently, Sec.  
94.26 focuses exclusively on END-free regions within Mexico and has 
language specifically tailored to address those regions. In order to 
include Argentina in Sec.  94.26, it would be necessary to remove 
specific references to the Government of Mexico and replace them with 
more general references to the national government of the exporting 
region.

Conclusion

    Results of our evaluation indicate that the Argentine Government 
has the laws, policies, and infrastructure to detect, respond to, and 
eliminate any reoccurrence of END.
    These findings are described in further detail in a qualitative 
evaluation that may be obtained from the person listed under FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT and may be viewed on the Internet at http:/
/www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/reg-request.html by following the link for 
current requests and supporting documentation. The evaluation documents 
the factors that have led us to conclude that commercial poultry in 
Argentina are END-free. Therefore, we are proposing to recognize 
Argentina as free of END, add that country to the list in Sec.  94.6 of 
regions where END is not known to exist, and amend Sec.  94.26 to 
include Argentina in the list of regions that must provide further 
certification of the END-free status of any poultry or poultry products 
exported to the United States.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This proposed 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.
    Under the regulations in 9 CFR part 94, the importation into the 
United States of poultry and poultry products that originate in or 
transit any region where END exists is generally prohibited. 
Furthermore, even if a region is considered free of END, the 
importation of poultry and poultry products from that region may be 
restricted depending on the region's proximity to or trading 
relationships with countries or regions where END is present.
    This proposed rule would amend the regulations by adding Argentina 
to the list of regions considered free of END. However, since Argentina 
shares borders with regions that the United States does not recognize 
as free of END, we are also proposing that Argentina meet additional 
certification requirements for live poultry and poultry products 
imported into the United States to ensure that the imports are free 
from END.
    Over the past several years, Argentina's poultry industry has 
increased substantially as shown in table 2. Although Argentina exports 
eggs, which typically are destined to Denmark, the main export for 
Argentina is poultry meat. Argentina exports poultry meat and products 
to 34 countries, with Chile expected to be the largest importer. In 
2003, Argentina exported $22 million of poultry meat including whole 
broilers (36 percent), chicken paws (30 percent), processed meat from 
layers (5 percent), and other products and byproducts such as wings, 
nuggets, burgers, offal, and breasts (29 percent). Exports for poultry 
meat in 2004 are projected at 70,000 tons, almost twice the amount 
exported in 2003. In 2005, exports are projected to reach 110,000 
metric tons.

                         Table 2.--Poultry Exports, Imports, and Production in Argentina
                                                [In metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Poultry         Poultry         Poultry
                              Year                                    imports         exports       production
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1998............................................................          65,215          18,936         930,247
1999............................................................          55,608          17,097         982,860
2000............................................................          45,683          19,187       1,000,260
2001............................................................          26,661          21,243         993,122
2002............................................................           1,196          30,501        972,870
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Source: FAOSTAT Argentina Poultry, last accessed November 2004.

    In 2003, poultry production in the United States totaled 38.5 
billion pounds for a total value of $23.3 billion. Broiler meat 
accounted for $15.2 billion (65 percent) of this value in 2003. The 
remaining worth was comprised of the value of eggs ($5.3 billion), 
turkey ($2.7 billion), and other chicken products ($48 million). The 
United States is also the world's largest exporter of broilers, with 
broiler exports totaling 4.93 billion pounds, the equivalent of $1.5 
billion, in 2003. Imports of broiler products into the United States in 
2003 totaled 12 million pounds, or less than 1 percent of the domestic 
production.
    In 2002, there were approximately 32,006 broiler and other meat 
producing chicken farms in the United States, as shown in table 3. 
Under the Small Business Administration's size standards, broiler and 
other meat production chicken farms with less than $750,000 in annual 
sales, which is the equivalent of 300,000 birds, qualify as small 
businesses. Given this information, about 20,949, or 64.5 percent of 
all broiler operations, qualify as small businesses.

                  Table 3.--Number of Farms Selling Broilers and Other Meat-Type Chickens, 2002
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                               Average sales per
                          Number sold                              Farms          Number              farm
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Broilers and other meat-type chickens..........................     32,006      8,500,313,357           $766,498
1 to 1,999.....................................................     10,869          1,146,308                304
2,000 to 15,999................................................        406          2,871,466             20,412
16,000 to 29,999...............................................        206          4,420,530             61,932
30,000 to 59,999...............................................        444         19,732,838            128,267

[[Page 49206]]

 
60,000 to 99,999...............................................      1,060         84,498,647            230,066
100,000 to 199,999.............................................      3,311        498,386,958            434,425
200,000 to 299,999.............................................      4,653      1,137,668,155            705,651
300,000 to 499,999.............................................      5,754      2,191,324,340          1,099,118
500,000 or more................................................      5,303      4,560,264,115         2,481,853
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Source: 2002 Census of Agriculture, Table 27.

    Broiler production in the United States is concentrated in a group 
of States stretching from Delaware south along the Atlantic coast to 
Georgia, then westward through Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. 
These States accounted for over 70 percent of broilers in the United 
States in 2003. The top five broiler producing States are Georgia, 
Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina, whose 2002 broiler 
sales are listed below in table 4.

                                           Table 4.--Number of Farms Selling Broilers in Selected States, 2002
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                              Total for
                                                                                                                                   North       top five
               Number of broilers sold per farm                 U.S. total    Alabama      Arkansas     Georgia    Mississippi    Carolina    producing
                                                                                                                                                States
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 to 1,999...................................................       10,869           89           79           46          104           13          331
2,000 to 59,999..............................................        1,056           20          103           49           86          101          359
60,000 to 99,999.............................................        1,060           57          199           84           97          158          595
100,000 to 199,999...........................................        3,311          385          634           25          210          539        1,793
200,000 to 499,999...........................................       10,407        1,328        1,927        1,335          883        1,284        6,757
500,000 or more..............................................        5,303           72          578          959          548          349       2,506
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: 2002 Census of Agriculture State Data Table.

    Poultry meat imported from Argentina could potentially affect the 
United States poultry industry. Consumers would benefit from any price 
decreases for poultry and poultry products, while producers would 
potentially be negatively affected by more competitive prices. However, 
the amount of poultry or poultry products that may be imported from 
Argentina is not expected to have a significant impact on poultry 
consumers or producers in the United States. In 2003, Argentina 
exported a total of $22 million worth of poultry and poultry products 
while the United States produced $15.2 billion worth of broilers. Given 
these numbers, any exports from Argentina are not likely to be in 
quantities sufficient to have a significant impact on U.S. poultry 
producers, and we do not anticipate that any U.S. entities, small or 
otherwise, would experience any significant economic effects as a 
result of this proposed action. It should also be noted that Argentina 
is not currently eligible to export poultry products to the United 
States under the FSIS regulations cited earlier in this document; there 
would, therefore, be no economic effects on U.S. entities until 
establishments in Argentina were approved to export poultry meat and 
other poultry products to the United States.
    Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and 
Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.

Executive Order 12988

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. If this proposed rule is adopted: (1) All State 
and local laws and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule 
will be preempted; (2) no retroactive effect will be given to this 
rule; and (3) administrative proceedings will not be required before 
parties may file suit in court challenging this rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act

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

List of Subjects in 9 CFR Part 94

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

    Accordingly, we propose to amend 9 CFR part 94 as follows:

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

    1. The authority citation for part 94 would continue to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 450, 7701-7772, and 8301-8317; 21 U.S.C. 136 
and 136a; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.4.


Sec.  94.6  [Amended]

    2. In Sec.  94.6, paragraph (a)(2) would be amended by adding the 
word ``Argentina,'' before the word ``Australia,''.
    3. Section 94.26 would be amended as follows:
    a. In the introductory text of the section, the first sentence 
would be amended by removing the words ``The Mexican'' and adding the 
words ``Argentina and the Mexican'' in their place.
    b. In paragraph (a), the words ``Government of Mexico'' would be 
removed and the words ``national Government of the exporting region'' 
would be added in their place.
    c. In paragraph (c)(1), the words ``Government of Mexico'' would be 
removed and the words ``national

[[Page 49207]]

Government of the exporting region'' would be added in their place.
    d. In paragraph (c)(4), the words ``Government of Mexico'' would be 
removed and the words ``national Government of the exporting region'' 
would be added in their place.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 17th day of August 2005.
Elizabeth E. Gaston,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 05-16689 Filed 8-22-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P