[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 216 (Wednesday, November 9, 2005)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 67933-67935]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-22337]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

9 CFR Part 93

[Docket No. 05-041-1]


Importation of Cattle From Mexico

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We are proposing to amend the regulations regarding the 
importation of cattle from Mexico by adding San Luis, AZ, as a port 
through which cattle that have been infested with fever ticks or 
exposed to fever ticks or tick-borne diseases may be imported into the 
United States. A new facility for the handling of animals is to be 
constructed on the Mexican side of the border at the port of San Luis, 
AZ, that will be equipped with facilities necessary for the proper 
chute inspection, dipping, and testing that are required for such 
cattle under the regulations. We would also amend the regulations to 
remove provisions that limit the admission of cattle that have been 
infested with fever ticks or exposed to fever ticks or tick-borne 
diseases to the State of Texas and that prohibit the movement of such 
cattle into areas of Texas quarantined because of fever ticks. The 
statutory requirement that limited the admission of those cattle to the 
State of Texas has been repealed, and we believe that the current 
provisions of our domestic fever tick quarantine regulations will 
effectively address any risk of the spread of tick-borne diseases 
associated with the subsequent movement of imported cattle from the 
quarantined area of Texas. These proposed changes would make an 
additional port of entry available and relieve restrictions on the 
movement of imported Mexican cattle within the United States.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before 
January 9, 2006.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://
www.regulations.gov and, in the ``Search for Open Regulations'' box, 
select ``Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service'' from the agency 
drop-down menu, then click on ``Submit.'' In the Docket ID column, 
select APHIS-2005-0101 to submit or view public comments and to view 
supporting and related materials available electronically. After the 
close of the comment period, the docket can be viewed using the 
``Advanced Search'' function in Regulations.gov.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send four copies 
of your comment (an original and three copies) to Docket No. 05-041-1, 
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. 05-041-1.
    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: Additional information about APHIS and its 
programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Arnaldo Vaquer, Senior Staff 
Veterinarian, National Center for Import and Export, Technical Trade 
Services Team, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 43, Riverdale, MD 20737-
1231; (301) 734-8364.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The regulations in 9 CFR part 93 prohibit or restrict the 
importation of certain animals, birds, and poultry into the United 
States to prevent the introduction of communicable diseases of 
livestock and poultry. Subpart D of part 93 (Sec. Sec.  93.400 through 
93.435, referred to below as the regulations) governs the importation 
of ruminants; within subpart D, Sec. Sec.  93.424 through 94.429 
specifically address the importation of various ruminants from Mexico 
into the United States.
    In Sec.  93.426, paragraph (a) states that all ruminants offered 
for entry into the United States from Mexico must be inspected at the 
port of entry and found to be free from communicable diseases and fever 
tick infestation and to not have been exposed to communicable diseases 
and fever tick infestation. Ruminants found to be affected with or to 
have been exposed to a communicable disease, or infested with fever 
ticks, are to be refused entry except as provided in Sec.  
93.427(b)(2).
    Under Sec.  93.427(b)(2), cattle that have been exposed to 
splenetic, southern, or tick fever, or that have been infested with or 
exposed to fever ticks, may be imported from Mexico for admission into 
the State of Texas, except that portion of the State quarantined 
because of fever ticks, either at one of the land border ports in Texas 
listed in Sec.  93.403(c) of the regulations, or at the port of Santa 
Teresa, NM, provided that certain conditions are met. Those conditions 
are spelled out in paragraphs (b)(2)(i) through (b)(2)(v) of Sec.  
93.427.
    In this document, we are proposing to amend Sec.  93.427(b)(2) by:
     Removing the limitation that allows the imported cattle 
admission only into the State of Texas;
     Removing the limitation that prohibits the imported cattle 
from being moved into areas in Texas quarantined because of fever 
ticks; and
     Adding San Luis, AZ, as an additional port through which 
the cattle may be imported into the United States.
    Each of these proposed changes is explained in more detail below.

Admission Only Into the State of Texas

    The limitation that allows the imported cattle admission only into 
the State of Texas originated in statutory language (21 U.S.C. 104) 
that, prior to 1993, authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to permit 
``the admission into the State of Texas of cattle which have been 
infested with or exposed to ticks upon being freed therefrom.'' 
However, in 1993, as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement 
(NAFTA) Implementation Act (Public Law 103-182), 21 U.S.C. 104 was 
amended to state more generally that the Secretary may permit the 
importation of cattle, sheep, or other ruminants, and swine from Canada 
and Mexico, effectively removing the restriction that prohibited cattle 
from moving into States other than Texas. The provisions of 21 U.S.C. 
104 were subsequently repealed by the Animal Health Protection Act, 
which constitutes the Secretary's current authority and places no 
restrictions on the destination within the United States of cattle 
imported from Mexico.
    Following the passage of the NAFTA Implementation Act, our 
permitting procedures were modified to allow cattle that had been 
infested with or exposed to fever ticks to be moved into States other 
than Texas under the conditions described in Sec.  93.427(b)(2), but we 
did not make a corresponding

[[Page 67934]]

change in the regulations to reflect the removal of the statutory 
restriction. We are, therefore, proposing to make that change in this 
document. Given that cattle from Mexico that have been exposed to 
splenetic, southern, or tick fever or that have been infested with or 
exposed to fever ticks must meet the conditions listed in Sec.  
93.427(b)(2)(i) through (b)(2)(v) before entering the United States, 
the likelihood of these cattle introducing splenetic, southern, or tick 
fever into the U.S. cattle population is very low. Thus, we do not 
believe it is necessary to maintain the restriction in Sec.  93.427(b) 
that limits the admission of those cattle to the State of Texas.

Quarantined Areas in Texas

    Second, Sec.  93.427 currently provides that cattle from Mexico may 
be imported into the State of Texas except into areas quarantined 
because of disease or tick infestation. These quarantined areas are 
listed in Sec.  72.5. Once cattle enter the quarantined area, certain 
requirements must be met in order for the cattle to leave the 
quarantined area. If a quarantined area is not participating in a tick 
eradication program, the cattle must meet the conditions in Sec.  72.6, 
while if a quarantined area is conducting tick eradication, the cattle 
must meet the conditions in Sec.  72.7. These regulations require 
either inspection for ticks and certification or dipping and 
certification, which ensures that cattle moving from quarantined areas 
do not carry ticks that can transmit cattle fever. Because any cattle 
from Mexico that entered the quarantined area would have to meet the 
same conditions before leaving the quarantined area, we are proposing 
to remove the additional movement restriction and to allow cattle from 
Mexico to enter Texas' tick quarantine zone.

Addition of San Luis, AZ, as an Approved Port

    The port of San Luis, AZ, is currently listed in Sec.  93.403(c) 
among the land border ports designated as having the necessary 
inspection facilities for the entry of ruminants from Mexico. However, 
as noted previously, the regulations in Sec.  93.427(b) provide that 
any cattle from Mexico that have been infested with fever ticks or 
exposed to fever ticks or tick-borne diseases may be imported only 
through one of the border ports in Texas listed in Sec.  93.403(c) or 
through the port of Santa Teresa, NM. We are proposing to amend Sec.  
93.427(b) to add San Luis, AZ, as a port through which such cattle may 
be imported.
    A new commercial port of entry is to be constructed in San Luis, 
AZ, approximately 5 miles to the east of the current border crossing; 
the current crossing will be improved as well and will continue to be 
used for noncommercial crossings (passenger vehicles and pedestrians). 
The purpose of the project is to provide more direct access to major 
transportation routes between the United States and Mexico and to 
provide higher levels of service to users of the port of entry. As part 
of this project, the Mexican Government intends to construct facilities 
to make the movement of cattle from Mexico into the United States less 
logistically challenging for both exporters and importers.
    Based on the information provided to us by the Mexican Government, 
the new cattle-handling facilities will be equipped with facilities 
necessary for the proper chute inspection, dipping, and testing that 
are required under the regulations for cattle that have been infested 
with fever ticks or exposed to fever ticks or tick-borne diseases. We 
will coordinate, as necessary, with the Mexican Government during the 
construction of the new port facilities and will inspect the new 
cattle-handling facilities upon their completion to confirm that they 
are properly equipped to allow for the necessary chute inspection, 
dipping, and testing of cattle. Any final action on this proposal to 
add San Luis, AZ, to the list in Sec.  93.427(b) of ports through which 
cattle that have been infested with fever ticks or exposed to fever 
ticks or tick-borne diseases may be imported from Mexico will be 
contingent upon our determination that the necessary facilities are in 
place.

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.
    This proposed rule would amend the regulations regarding the 
importation of cattle from Mexico by adding San Luis, AZ, as a port 
through which cattle that have been infested with fever ticks or 
exposed to fever ticks or tick-borne diseases may be imported into the 
United States and would remove provisions that (1) limit the admission 
of cattle that have been infested with fever ticks or exposed to fever 
ticks or tick-borne diseases to the State of Texas and (2) prohibit the 
movement of such cattle into areas of Texas quarantined because of 
fever ticks. These proposed changes would make an additional port of 
entry available and relieve restrictions on the movement of imported 
Mexican cattle within the United States.
    The proposed changes in the regulations would benefit certain 
cattle operations in the United States by facilitating the importation 
of cattle from Mexico that have been infested with fever ticks or 
exposed to fever ticks or tick-borne diseases, mainly by reducing 
transport costs from the port of entry. At present, such cattle may 
enter the United States only at ports located in Texas and New Mexico. 
The proposed port of entry for these cattle at San Luis, AZ, would 
benefit cattle operations to the west of the current ports of entry; 
transport costs would be lower since the cattle would be moved over 
shorter distances.
    Cattle from Mexico are usually purchased by stocker operations that 
graze the animals before they are shipped to feedlots. We do not know 
the number or size distribution of stocker operations (neither overall, 
nor for the subset of operations that may use the port at San Luis, 
AZ). According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, it is reasonable to 
assume that most are small entities. This assumption is based on 
aggregate data for all beef producers in the United States. In 2002, 
there were 664,431 U.S. farms primarily engaged in raising beef cattle 
(North American Industrial Classification System [NAICS] code 112111, 
Beef Cattle Ranching and Farming). Of the 664,431 farms, 659,009 (99 
percent) had annual receipts that year of less than $500,000. The Small 
Business Administration's small entity threshold for farms classified 
within NAICS code 112111 is annual receipts of not more than $750,000.
    APHIS does not have information on the number of entities that may 
choose to import infested or exposed cattle using the San Luis, AZ, 
facilities, nor the cost savings that would be realized. We welcome 
information that the public may offer that would allow the Agency to 
better determine the number of enterprises that would be affected and 
the probable magnitude of their cost savings.
    APHIS does not expect the proposed changes would result in a net 
increase in the number of cattle imported from Mexico. According to the 
chairman of the Greater Yuma Port Authority (San Luis, AZ), the average 
number of cattle from Mexico crossing at San Luis, AZ, over the past 
few years has been approximately 30,000 annually. With the addition of 
San Luis, AZ, as an

[[Page 67935]]

approved port for the importation of cattle from Mexico that have been 
infested with fever ticks or exposed to fever ticks or tick-borne 
diseases, 30,000 to 50,000 head of such cattle could potentially enter 
the United States through San Luis; these animals would most likely be 
animals that otherwise would enter through the existing approved ports 
in Texas and New Mexico. Any positive impacts of the proposed rule for 
small entities in the San Luis, AZ, area, such as an increased volume 
of business for firms that transport cattle, would be matched by 
business declines for firms operating from the Texas and New Mexico 
ports. There may also be positive effects at the Texas and New Mexico 
ports to the extent that the diversion of cattle to San Luis, AZ, would 
reduce operational delays when the demand for imports is beyond the 
capacity of the facilities; however, APHIS has no information on 
whether such periods of insufficient capacity have occurred, and if so, 
how frequently.
    There are no significant alternatives to the proposed rule. The 
Mexican Government has requested that a port be established on the 
Mexico-Arizona border for the entry into the United States of cattle 
from Mexico that have been infested with fever ticks or exposed to 
fever ticks or tick-borne diseases. APHIS has determined that with the 
construction of new facilities at the port of San Luis, AZ, this 
request can be satisfied.
    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 in conflict 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 93

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

    Accordingly, we propose to amend 9 CFR part 93 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 would continue to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1622 and 8301-8317; 21 U.S.C. 136 and 136a; 
31 U.S.C. 9701; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.4.

    2. In Sec.  93.427, the introductory text of paragraph (b)(2) would 
be revised to read as follows:


Sec.  93.427  Cattle from Mexico.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) Cattle that have been exposed to splenetic, southern, or tick 
fever, or that have been infested with or exposed to fever ticks, may 
be imported from Mexico at one of the land border ports in Texas listed 
in Sec.  93.403(c) or at the ports of Santa Teresa, NM, or San Luis, 
AZ, provided that the following conditions are strictly observed and 
complied with:
* * * * *

    Done in Washington, DC, this 3rd day of November 2005.
Elizabeth E. Gaston,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 05-22337 Filed 11-8-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P