The USDA has revised the regulations pertaining to the exportation of livestock, including horses, from the United States. The rule changes go into effect February 19, 2016.
Three key changes have been made that can potentially impact how horses are exported from the United States. These changes are:
- The new revisions allow for the pre-export inspection of horses at facilities other than an export inspection facility associated with the port of embarkation. As few facilities specifically built for horses are available to the export industry, this change should have a positive impact on both horse and handler safety.
- Several requirements for export health certifications, tests and treatments have been removed from the regulations, and instead direct exporters to follow the requirements of the importing country regarding processes and procedures. While few issues arose due to the previous regulations, this change should prevent conflicts from developing between the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and authorities in the importing country in the future.
- Under certain circumstances, the revisions replace the specific standards for export inspection facilities and ocean vessels with new performance standards. The adoption of these performance standards should allow for approval of more specialized facilities and vessels, increasing the options available to the industry at large.
In addition to the changes, a Program Handbook was created to provide guidance and specific information regarding regulations for export facilities, transport vessels and lists of approved laboratories and ports of embarkation. The Program Handbook is intended to assist owners and operators by describing acceptable ways to meet the requirements as described in the updated regulations.
The changes should provide exporters and APHIS with more flexibility in arranging for the export of horses from the United States. The AHC will continue to monitor the effects of these changes.