[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 96 (Friday, May 16, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 28382-28385]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-10918]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

9 CFR Part 93

[Docket No. APHIS-2007-0141]


Importation of Horses, Ruminants, Swine, and Dogs; Remove Panama 
From Lists of Regions Where Screwworm Is Considered To Exist

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 live horses, ruminants, swine, and dogs by removing 
Panama from the lists of regions where screwworm is considered to 
exist. We are taking this action because the eradication of screwworm 
from Panama has been confirmed. This action would relieve certain 
screwworm-related certification and inspection requirements for live 
animals imported into the United States from Panama.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before July 
15, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://
www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/
main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2007-0141 to submit or view comments and 
to view supporting and related materials available electronically.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send two copies of 
your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2007-0141, Regulatory Analysis and 
Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, 
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to 
Docket No. APHIS-2007-0141.
    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. Julia Punderson, Regionalization 
Evaluation Services--Import, Sanitary Trade Issues Team, National 
Center for Import and Export, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 38, 
Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 734-0757.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The regulations in 9 CFR part 93 (referred to below as the 
regulations) prohibit or restrict the importation of certain animals 
into the United States to prevent the introduction of pests and 
diseases of livestock and poultry, including New World screwworm 
(Cochliomyia hominivorax). Screwworm, a pest native to tropical areas 
and currently found in South America and the Caribbean, causes 
extensive damage to livestock and other warm-blooded animals. Subparts 
C, D, E, and F of the regulations govern the importation of horses, 
ruminants, swine, and dogs, respectively, and include provisions for 
the inspection and treatment of these animals if imported from any 
region of the world where screwworm is considered to exist. Sections 
93.301, 93.405, 93.505, and 93.600 list all the regions of the world 
where screwworm is considered to exist.
    The regulations include provisions that the animals be inspected, 
quarantined, and, if necessary, treated for screwworms, and require 
that the animals be accompanied to the United States by a certificate 
signed by a full-time salaried veterinary official of the exporting 
region attesting that the above conditions have been met. Additionally,

[[Page 28383]]

on arrival, horses must be quarantined at an animal import center for a 
minimum of 7 days and must be examined prior to release from 
quarantine.
    The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the 
Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has responsibility for 
taking actions to exclude, eradicate, and control agricultural pests, 
such as screwworm, in the United States. Eradication of indigenous 
screwworm in the United States using systematic releases of sterile 
adult screwworm flies was completed in 1966. Sporadic screwworm 
outbreaks continued to occur and, in 1972, a large outbreak occurred in 
southwestern States as a result of screwworms entering the United 
States on livestock from Mexico. This outbreak led to plans that were 
then developed to progressively eradicate screwworm in Mexico and 
establish a biological barrier to prevent incursion of screwworm into 
the United States. In 1972, USDA began a cooperative screwworm program 
to help Mexico eradicate screwworm. This program was later expanded 
with the goal of covering the entire Central American Isthmus and 
Panama, eventually reaching the Darien Gap area on Panama's border with 
Colombia. Successful cooperative screwworm eradication programs were 
completed in Mexico in 1991, Belize and Guatemala in 1994, El Salvador 
in 1995, Honduras in 1996, Nicaragua in 1999, and Costa Rica in 2000.
    USDA began a cooperative screwworm eradication program in Panama in 
1994 and, in 2006, Panama requested that APHIS evaluate the animal 
disease status of Panama with respect to screwworm 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.'' Using information submitted to us 
by the Commission for the Eradication and Prevention of Screwworm 
(COPEG), Panama's Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development 
(MIDA), and USDA, we have reviewed and analyzed the animal health 
status of Panama with respect to screwworm. Our determinations 
concerning this request, based on the information submitted to us and 
the information we gathered, are set forth below.

Risk Analysis

    APHIS conducted a risk analysis to examine the risk of introducing 
screwworm into the United States from the importation of live horses, 
ruminants, swine, and dogs from Panama. We summarize our findings for 
each of the 11 factors in 9 CFR 92.2 below and summarize our risk 
considerations of these findings following our discussions of the 
factors.

Authority, Organization, and Veterinary Infrastructure

    In Panama, the eradication and prevention of screwworm has been 
accomplished through the efforts of COPEG, a cooperative program 
involving MIDA and USDA. COPEG serves as the veterinary authority, and 
in this role directly controls the specifics of the eradication and 
prevention program, with the full cooperation of Panama's veterinary 
infrastructure, as well as financial and scientific support from USDA. 
COPEG applied the preexisting infrastructure and legal framework 
developed within Panama for the eradication of foot-and-mouth disease 
(FMD), and shares many of the FMD program resources developed under the 
Panama-U.S. Commission for the Prevention of Foot-and-Mouth Disease 
(COPFA). APHIS has determined that Panama has available the necessary 
legal authority, infrastructure, budget, and supporting resources to 
carry out the program and maintain its screwworm-free status.

Disease Status in the Region

    The last reported native case of screwworm outside the permanent 
biological barrier in the area of the Darien Gap occurred in 2001. The 
continued, but extremely low, finding of screwworm within the buffer 
area adjoining the border with Colombia is an expected occurrence. The 
established permanent biological barrier and continued intensive 
surveillance will act to prevent the spread of screwworm into the rest 
of Panama and Central America. APHIS could not identify any risks 
associated with this factor that would pose an unacceptable risk to the 
United States if trade with Panama in live animals were to occur.

Disease Status of Adjacent Regions

    Panama shares borders with Costa Rica and Colombia. While screwworm 
has been eradicated in Costa Rica, Colombia is still considered to be 
affected. The existence of a common land border with a screwworm-
affected region presents a risk for reintroducing screwworm into Panama 
from Colombia. However, APHIS has determined that Panama's active 
disease control and surveillance program and maintenance of the 
permanent biological barrier with continuous distribution of sterile 
screwworm flies serves to mitigate the risk of reinfestation of Panama 
with screwworm.

Extent of Active Disease Control Program

    As previously noted, the eradication and prevention of screwworm in 
Panama was the result of cooperative efforts of USDA and Panama through 
COPEG, and involved the use of the sterile fly release method and the 
establishment of a permanent biological barrier between Central America 
and the South American Continent. APHIS has determined that Panama has 
an effective prevention program in place based upon Panama's active 
disease control and surveillance program and maintenance of the 
permanent biological barrier with continuous distribution of sterile 
screwworm flies. These findings are described in further detail in the 
risk analysis.

Vaccination

    Vaccination is not an applicable control method for screwworm. 
Treating wounds and spraying or dipping animals with an approved 
product such as organophosphates or other insecticide will provide 
protection against screwworm for up to 7 to 10 days. However, the most 
effective way to control screwworm infestation remains eradication.

Separation From Adjacent Regions of Higher Risk

    The Darien Province forms the border between Panama and Colombia. 
This border is characterized by mountainous rainforest on the 
Panamanian side and flat marsh and swamp on the Colombian side of the 
border. This area is called the Darien Gap and is roughly 100 miles 
long and 30 miles wide. The land supports very little agriculture and 
is sparsely populated. There are no major roads crossing the Darien 
Gap, which limits land crossing from Central America to South America. 
The natural physical characteristics of the area enhance its 
effectiveness as a biological barrier. The remote nature of the Darien 
Gap was first utilized over 40 years ago in the eradication and control 
effort for FMD because it serves as a natural barrier to dissemination 
of infectious diseases such as FMD.
    APHIS finds that the natural and biological barriers of the Darien 
Gap limit the movement of fertile screwworm flies or potentially 
affected animal species from the South American Continent into Panama, 
effectively controlling the risk of screwworm introduction into Panama

[[Page 28384]]

outside of the permanent biological barrier.

Movement Controls

    The movement controls established previously as part of FMD 
legislation continue to be implemented and enforced by COPEG and MIDA 
officials. These established movement controls limit the illegal 
movement of livestock from the inspection and control zones in Darien 
Province and the Kuna Yala region into the rest of Panama. The 
continuous monitoring of the permanent biological barrier in the Darien 
Gap is a strong feature of the cooperative FMD and screwworm 
eradication and prevention programs. The system of inspection posts and 
monitoring throughout Panama significantly limits the risk of 
introduction and spread of screwworm in Panama. These findings are 
described in further detail in the risk analysis.

Livestock Demographics and Marketing Practices

    Panama has a total human population of approximately 3 million, 
with 45 percent of the populations living in rural areas. More than 70 
percent of Panamanian exports are agricultural products; however, the 
vast majority of these imports are plant products such as sugar and 
bananas. Nonetheless, livestock raising (cattle, pigs, and poultry) is 
an important and long-established economic activity in Panama, and beef 
and hides are exported. Panama has about 1.5 million head of cattle on 
40,000 holdings. Cattle are primarily raised in the southwestern 
provinces of Chiriqu[iacute], Los Santos, and Veraguas. There are 
300,000 swine on 28,000 holdings, located primarily in the central and 
western provinces of Panam[aacute], Los Santos, Chiriqu[iacute], and 
Veraguas. Cattle are only allowed to be raised in the control zone area 
of Darien Province where the cattle population density is low and 
involves roughly 8 percent of the province, with an estimated 0.9 
animals per hectare. In the inspection zone area of Darien Province, 
commercial cattle rearing is prohibited and agricultural production is 
limited to swine raised for local consumption.
    The poultry population in Panama is approximately 14 million 
chickens on 150,000 holdings located primarily in the central provinces 
of Panam[aacute], Cocl[eacute] and Col[oacute]n. There are an 
additional 200,000 turkeys, ducks, and geese on 20,000 holdings 
throughout Panama as well as a small population of horses and mules 
(135,000 head on 46,000 holdings), and sheep and goats (12,000 head on 
1,000 holdings). Few screwworm-susceptible live animals are exported.
    Currently, the exportation of live animals is not a large part of 
Panama's agricultural economy. Screwworm larvae are not able to survive 
in nonviable tissue, so the importation of meat or other animal 
products would not pose a risk for introduction of screwworm into the 
United States.

Disease Surveillance

    The infrastructure developed for FMD surveillance has been applied 
effectively to the screwworm eradication and control program. The 
measures in place in the inspection and control zones, which includes 
the Darien Province and the Emera and Kuna Yala indigenous comaracas, 
are adequate to rapidly detect and eradicate screwworm and prevent the 
reintroduction of screwworm into the rest of Panama. Sample submission 
from all parts of Panama reflects both targeted surveillance within the 
inspection and control areas and surveillance in the livestock 
production areas. APHIS finds that the active surveillance program in 
Panama is sufficient to detect the presence of screwworm if it were to 
be reintroduced into Panama.

Diagnostic Laboratory Capabilities

    Laboratory diagnosis of screwworm in Panama is the responsibility 
of the central Laboratory for the Diagnosis of Vesicular Disease in 
Toucaman. APHIS considers Panama to have the diagnostic capabilities to 
adequately diagnose the presence of screwworm.

Emergency Response Capacity

    Panama has in place a contingency plan for screwworm outbreaks 
under the supervision of COPEG. The contingency plans are supplemented 
by official instructions and guidelines detailing procedures for 
disease notification and confirmation, sampling methods, and diagnostic 
procedures.
    APHIS has determined that Panama has in place the infrastructure 
and legal authority to declare an emergency and take appropriate action 
in case of a screwworm outbreak. The emergency response capability was 
proven to be effective in 2003 following an accidental release of 
fertile flies. The emergency response plan is comprehensive and allowed 
COPEG to respond rapidly with extensive resources, utilizing the 
cooperation of several government agencies to rapidly contain and 
eradicate the accidental infestation. APHIS was unable to identify 
specific limitations in this system that would pose a risk to the 
United States.
    These findings are described in further detail in a risk analysis 
that may be obtained from the person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT and may be viewed on the Internet on the 
Regulations.gov Web site. (A link to Regulations.gov is provided under 
the heading ADDRESSES at the beginning of this proposed rule.) The 
evaluation documents the factors that have led us to conclude that 
Panama has successfully eradicated screwworm. Therefore, we are 
proposing to remove Panama from the lists in Sec. Sec.  93.301(j), 
93.405(a)(3), 93.505(b), and 93.600(a) of regions where screwworm is 
considered to exist.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12866. 
For this action, the Office of Management and Budget has waived its 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    This proposed rule would amend the regulations regarding the 
importation of live horses, ruminants, swine, and dogs by removing 
Panama from the lists of regions where screwworm is considered to 
exist. We are taking this action because the eradication of screwworm 
from Panama has been confirmed. This action would relieve certain 
screwworm-related certification and inspection requirements for live 
animals imported into the United States from Panama.
    No significant change in program operations is anticipated as a 
result of this proposed rulemaking, nor will this action affect other 
Federal agencies, State governments, or local governments. The cost of 
all technical support activities, including establishment of animal 
quarantine control measures, treatment stations, maintenance of 
livestock census, screwworm surveillance, establishment and maintenance 
of laboratory support, and aerial dispersion of sterile screwworm flies 
in Panama is provided by COPEG and the cooperative agreement funded by 
the USDA and MIDA. When importing live animals from a region where 
screwworm is considered to exist, the cost of any required testing (and 
treatment, if needed) would be paid by the owner of the animals being 
shipped. Our proposal to remove Panama from the list of regions where 
screwworm is considered to exist would reduce the cost for producers 
and others in Panama to export ruminants, swine, horses, and dogs to 
the United States.
    The economic effects associated with the proposed changes are 
likely to be

[[Page 28385]]

limited. This is because the amount of live animals exported into the 
United States from Panama is likely to remain small. Trade statistics 
indicate that since 2001, the United States has not imported any 
ruminants, swine, or dogs from Panama. Equine imports from Panama over 
this period have numbered only 163, which is approximately 0.06 percent 
of all horse imports.\1\
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    \1\ Based on U.S. Census Bureau data, as presented by Foreign 
Agricultural Service, USDA: http://www.fas.usda.gov/ustrade/
USTImHS10.asp?QI=online_trade_dataTRad.
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    According to Small Business Administration size standards for beef 
cattle ranching and farming (North American Industry Classification 
System (NAICS) 112111), dairy cattle and milk production (NAICS 
112120), hog and pig farming (NAICS 112210), sheep farming (NAICS 
112410), goat farming (NAICS 112420), and horse and other equine 
production (NAICS 112920), as well as the commercial production of 
dogs, which is classified under ``all other animal production'' (NAICS 
112990),\2\ operations with not more than $750,000 in annual sales are 
considered small entities. We do not expect that these producers, small 
or otherwise, would be affected significantly by the proposed change in 
Panama's screwworm status. This is because, for the reasons discussed 
above, live ruminants, swine, horses and dogs from Panama do not play 
much, if any, of a role in their operations, and few susceptible live 
animals are expected to be exported.
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    \2\ The ``all other animal production'' classification also 
includes the production of other animals, such as adornment birds 
(swans, peacocks, flamingos), alpacas, birds for sale, buffalos, 
cats, crickets, deer, elk, laboratory animals, llamas, rattlesnakes, 
worms, and breeding of pets.
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    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 new 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, FISH, AND POULTRY, 
AND CERTAIN ANIMAL, BIRD, AND POULTRY PRODUCTS; REQUIREMENTS FOR 
MEANS OF CONVEYANCE AND SHIPPING CONTAINERS

    1. The authority citation for part 93 continues 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.


Sec.  93.301  [Amended]

    2. In Sec.  93.301, paragraph (j) is amended by removing the word 
``Panama,''.


Sec.  93.405  [Amended]

    3. In Sec.  93.405, paragraph (a)(3) is amended by removing the 
word ``Panama,''.


Sec.  93.505  [Amended]

    4. In Sec.  93.505, paragraph (b) is amended by removing the word 
``Panama,''.


Sec.  93.600  [Amended]

    5. In Sec.  93.600, paragraph (a) is amended by removing the word 
``Panama,''.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 7th day of May 2008.
Cindy J. Smith,
Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. E8-10918 Filed 5-15-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P