[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 113 (Tuesday, June 12, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 34783-34784]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-14297]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

9 CFR Parts 93, 94, and 95

[Docket No. APHIS-2006-0074]
RIN 0579-AC36


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim rule; reopening of comment period.

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SUMMARY: We are reopening the comment period for our interim rule that 
amended the regulations concerning the importation of animals and 
animal products to prohibit or restrict the importation of bird and 
poultry products from regions where any subtype of highly pathogenic 
avian influenza (HPAI) is considered to exist. The interim rule also 
imposed restrictions concerning importation of live poultry and birds 
that have been vaccinated for certain types of HPAI, or that have been 
moved through regions where any subtype of HPAI is considered to exist. 
This action will give the public an additional opportunity to comment 
on the interim rule and on a change to its provisions that we are 
considering.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before July 
12, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

[[Page 34784]]

     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2006-0074.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to 
Docket No. APHIS-2006-0074, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, 
APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-
1238.
    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may 
be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2006-
0074 or in our reading room, which 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) 799-7039 before coming.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Javier Vargas, Case Manager, 
National Center for Import and Export, Animal Health Policy and 
Programs, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 38, Riverdale, MD 20737; 
(301) 851-3300.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations 
in Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 93, 94, and 
95 (referred to below as the regulations), govern the importation into 
the United States of specified animals and animal products and 
byproducts to prevent the introduction of various animal diseases, 
including Newcastle disease and highly pathogenic avian influenza 
(HPAI).
    On January 24, 2011, we published in the Federal Register (76 FR 
4046-4056, Docket No. APHIS-2006-0074) an interim rule \1\ that amended 
the regulations governing the importation into the United States of 
live birds, poultry, eggs for hatching, and bird and poultry products 
and by-products. The interim rule was effective upon publication.
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    \1\ To view the interim rule and the comments we received, go to 
http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2006-0074.
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    Comments on the interim rule were required to be received on or 
before March 25, 2011. In a document published in the Federal Register 
on May 3, 2011 (76 FR 24793, Docket No. APHIS-2006-0074), we reopened 
the comment period for an additional 15 days until May 18, 2011, to 
allow interested persons additional time to prepare and submit 
comments. We received 16 comments by that date.
    We are once again reopening the comment period for the interim rule 
and are soliciting public comment on a change we are considering to the 
provisions of the January 2011 interim rule.
    Specifically, the interim rule amended Sec. Sec.  93.101(b) and 
93.205(a) to prohibit the importation into the United States of live 
birds or poultry that have been moved through a region identified in 
accordance with Sec.  94.6(a) as a region where any form of HPAI 
exists. We took this action to minimize the risk of introducing HPAI 
into the United States through the importation of infected avians. 
However, several peer-reviewed scientific studies \2\ have come to our 
attention since the publication of the interim rule establishing that 
pigeons (and other Columbiform species such as doves) have a very low 
risk of being infected by HPAI viruses and would therefore contribute 
little to the risk of transmission and spread of such viruses. Thus, it 
appears that it may not be necessary to prohibit the importation of 
Columbiform avians from HPAI regions provided that all other 
requirements in the regulations pertaining to pigeons, doves, and other 
poultry are followed.
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    \2\ Studies we reviewed included Infectious and Lethal Doses of 
H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus for House Sparrows 
(Passer Domesticus) and Rock Pigeons (Columbia Livia) J VET Diagn 
Invest July 2009 21: 437-445; and Pathogenesis and pathobiology of 
avian influenza virus infection in birds, M.J. Pantin-Jackwood and 
D.E. Swayne, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, Agricultural 
Research Service, USDA, Athens, GA 30605.
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    Under Sec.  93.209 of the current regulations, poultry, including 
Columbiform avians, offered for importation from any region of the 
world except Canada are required to be quarantined in an approved 
facility for at least 30 days after importation into the United States 
to determine, through inspections and testing, their freedom from 
communicable diseases of poultry and from exposure to such diseases. We 
further require in Sec.  93.205(a) certification that live poultry, 
including Columbiform avians (except those from Canada), were inspected 
on the premises of origin immediately before the date of movement from 
such region and that they were then found to be free of evidence of 
communicable diseases of poultry. We also require that, as far as it 
has been possible to determine, during the 90 days prior to movement 
the poultry were not exposed to communicable diseases of poultry and 
the premises were not in any area under quarantine. Columbiform avians 
and other poultry must also not have been vaccinated with a vaccine for 
the H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza.
    Section 93.205(a) also requires that live poultry are also required 
to have been kept in the region from which they are offered for 
importation since they were hatched, or for at least 90 days 
immediately preceding the date of movement, that the poultry have not 
been moved through a region identified in accordance with Sec.  94.6(a) 
of this subchapter as a region where any form of HPAI exists, and that, 
as far as it has been possible to determine, no case of HPAI or exotic 
Newcastle disease (END) occurred on the premises where such poultry 
were kept, or on adjoining premises, during that 90-day period.
    Based on our review of the studies referred to above and the 
mitigations already in the regulations, we have determined that the 
importation of Columbiform avians from regions considered to have HPAI 
poses a minimal risk to the United States. Therefore, we are 
considering adding to the final rule following this interim rule a 
provision to amend Sec.  93.205(a) of the regulations to allow the 
importation of Columbiform avians that have originated in or transited 
regions considered to have HPAI subject to the regulations. Columbiform 
avians and other poultry from regions considered to have END would 
remain prohibited from importation to the United States.
    We are therefore reopening the comment period on Docket No. APHIS-
2006-0074 for an additional 30 days. This action will allow interested 
persons additional time to prepare and submit comments on the interim 
rule and on the change we are considering with respect to Columbiform 
avians.

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 450, 1622, 7701-7772, 7781-7786, and 8301-
8317; 21 U.S.C. 136 and 136a; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 
371.4.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 6th day of June 2012.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-14297 Filed 6-11-12; 8:45 am]
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