U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Animal agriculture, like other animal-related industries, is a constantly evolving enterprise, informed by results from scientific studies focused on the best methods to raise livestock so as to minimize animal discomfort and disease.

With increasing concerns about the impacts on antibiotic resistance resulting from the use of antibiotics in livestock, methods to keep livestock healthy without relying on antibiotics has become the focus of scientific research.

Hence, the ability to modify animal genes to protect them from disease infection has been an area of increased interested.

Genus, a world-leading animal genetics company, recently announced “the discovery of the first pig resistant to Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome virus (‘PRRSv’)[1] in collaboration with the University of Missouri. An exclusive global license has been signed enabling Genus to develop and commercialise the technology.”

As reported on USDA’s website[2]

PRRSV is the etiologic agent of PRRS, an economically devastating, pandemic disease of swine that is typically characterized by reproductive failure in breeding herds and respiratory problems and growth retardation in growing pigs.  Two PRRS outbreaks were first reported in the late 1980s in North America and central Europe.  The disease is now found in most pig-producing countries and affects the swine industry and food safety worldwide, causing enormous economic losses each year.  In the US, the annual loss due to PRRS is estimated to exceed $500 million.  Over the last decade, this genetic/antigenic diversity of PRRSV has expanded continuously and rapidly, highlighting the dynamic nature of PRRSV evolution and epidemiology.

Using gene editing technology, Genus and its subsidiary the Pig Improvement Company (PIC) reportedly made “small changes . . . to inactivate a single gene from the pigs that produces a protein, known as CD163, [which] the PRRS virus requires for infection to occur.”

The results allow the production of PRRSv resistant pigs.

As described on Genus’ website:

“Using precise gene editing, the University of Missouri was able to breed pigs that do not produce a specific protein necessary for the virus to spread in the animals.  The early stage studies conducted by the University demonstrate these PRRSv resistant pigs, when exposed to the virus, do not get sick and continue to gain weight normally.  Genus will continue to develop this technology, and we expect it will be at least five years until PRRS resistant animals are available to farmers.”

Since there is no cure for PRRSV and the disease results in “the suffering or death of millions of pigs and piglets each year,” this type of innovative advance in science is considered a breakthrough.

[1] While antibiotics are not effective in treating viruses like PRRSV, such infections are often accompanied by secondary bacterial infections which are susceptible to targeted antibiotic treatment.

[2] This information is from Utah State University’s submission to USDA’s Current Research Information System (CRIS).

USDA, authorized and tasked with enforcing the humane treatment of horses pursuant to the Horse Protection Act, has published amendments to its regulations pursuant to the Act.

According to a 2010 Audit Report by USDA’s Office of Inspector General:

“APHIS’ program for inspecting horses for soring is not adequate to ensure that these animals are not being abused. At present, horse industry organizations hire their own inspectors (known as designated qualified persons (DQP)) to inspect horses at the shows they sponsor. However, we found that DQPs do not always inspect horses to effectively enforce the law and regulations, and in some cases where they do find violations, they deliberately issue tickets to friends or family members of responsible individuals so that the responsible person could avoid receiving a penalty for violating the Horse Protection.”

APHIS agreed with the findings of this report and proposed regulations that would dramatically amend its regulations—not only removing the authority of horse industry organizations to train designated qualified persons, and reassigning that responsibility to APHIS—but also amends the regulations “to prohibit use of pads, substances, and action devices on horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions.” See 81 FR 49112, July 26, 2916.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA), who will be most affected by the proposed regulations have expressed concerns about the proposed rule, warning that:

“[t]he proposed rule by the United States Department of Agriculture that would eliminate the use of any pad, action device or hoof band as well as eliminate all self-regulation will have devastating impacts. The demands on horse show management will be costly and create an unnecessary hassle and the demands on exhibitors to enter horses, regardless of the division will be prohibitive as well. Horse shows in many cases will cease to exist.

The proposed rule is clearly an overreach, typical of today’s Washington, and an overt effort to bypass Congress. In order to appease radical animal rights organizations, USDA is refusing to objectively look at the facts and instead implementing rules that are not based in science or reality. Veterinary experts at Auburn University and the University of Tennessee have proven that action devices and pads do not harm horses.”

Instead “TWHBEA is calling on USDA to assemble a group of Equine Specialists to determine objective tests and end more than forty years of conflict,” adding that:

“TWHBEA is currently funding veterinary research in order to obtain objective, scientific tests for our show horses. Changing inspectors and eliminating our show horse will do nothing to help the welfare of our horse and will crush hundreds of civic clubs across the country who depend on our shows for fundraising.”

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, whose mission is “to improve the health and welfare of the horse, to further the professional development of its members, and to provide resources and leadership for the benefit of the equine industry,” is in favor of the proposed regulations.

 

“The AAEP is extremely pleased with the USDA’s work in proposing regulation changes to end the inhumane act of soring, which is one of the most significant welfare issues affecting any equine breed or discipline in the United States.

As doctors of veterinary medicine, we have previously recommended the use of only veterinarians to inspect horses at shows for evidence of soring, as well as a ban on action devices and performance packages. Both of these items are included in the USDA’s proposed rule changes.

Soring is an intentional, cruel act which must end. The AAEP will continue to support the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act and work to eliminate this practice.”

In USDA’s “Regulatory Impact Analysis & Analysis in support of Certification that the Rule will not have a Significant Economic Impact on a Substantial Number of Small Entities” the agency concluded that the proposed  “rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”

However, the agency also invited comments that refute that conclusion, which provides the TWHBEA or others negatively affected by this proposed regulation the opportunity to inform USDA about potential unintended consequences of its rule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s summertime!

Many of us are planning some time away from home. If you plan on taking your pets with you, the USDA just updated their website with important information about traveling internationally with your pet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has launched a new Web site devoted to international pet travel. Pets are often considered part of the family, but traveling with your pet isn’t as simple as just booking a flight or driving across the border. There may be very specific steps you and your veterinarian need to follow, as well as pet vaccinations, treatments, and/or testing that your veterinarian must document.

 

We know this process can be stressful. That’s why we designed a new Web site to help guide you and your veterinarian through each step. Some countries have pre-travel requirements that take advanced planning and time to complete, so it’s important to start the process early.

The website includes instructions about taking pet to other countries and bringing pets into the U.S.

APHIS explains its mission “is to protect the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources.”

To prevent the entry and spread of foreign animal diseases into our country, pets entering the United States from other countries may need to meet specific APHIS requirements.

In addition to federal requirements, airlines may have additional requirements for pet owners.

Don’t forget to bring along any medication, and the food your pet is used to eating if it is not available at your destination, to avoid gastrointestinal disorders.

Make sure your pet is properly identified and keep in mind that microchip technology and readers may not be reliable at your destination, so make sure your contact information is included on your pet’s collar.

USDA’s website also includes links to other federal agencies that have additional requirements for pet owners.

For example, the CDC has regulations that “require that dogs imported into the United States are healthy and are vaccinated against rabies before arrival into the United States. These requirements apply equally to all dogs, including puppies and service animals.”

 

Plan accordingly and be safe.

The International Movement of Animals

Accredited veterinarians must complete specific examinations, testing, and paperwork before animals are transported internationally. According to USDA:

VS Form 17-140, U.S. Origin Health Certificate, is the IHC typically required to move animals internationally, although some importing countries require their own import health certificate in addition to, or instead of, VS Form 17-140. NVAP Module 2: Role of Agencies and Health Certificates provides detailed instructions on completing VS Form 17-140. IHCs are issued by an accredited veterinarian and endorsed by an authorized VS endorsing veterinarian.

Individual countries may require additional testing, paperwork and certifications. Similar to interstate movement, the accredited veterinarian should check on the specific import regulations of each country to ensure that all required steps have been taken. Information is usually available at the APHIS International Animal Export Regulations (IREGs) webpage at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/vs/iregs/animals/.

However, if not there, USDA recommends that a veterinarian “[c]ontact either the Embassy or Consulate of the destination country or its Department or Ministry of Agriculture for specific details related to import requirements” or contact the local USDA office for more information on animal exports.

In addition to specific paperwork, some countries require specific diagnostic testing and/or isolation of animals before importation.

USDA provides guidance regarding these additional requirements:

Isolation Facilities
Some countries may require animals be maintained in a USDA-approved isolation facility prior to export. This means that an APHIS veterinarian must inspect and approve the isolation facility prior to the start of the isolation period. If required, contact your District Office to schedule the inspection and approval to meet export time frames.

Animal testing
Some destination countries require additional tests before animals can be imported. They may require specific tests for specific diseases, so always check with the destination country prior to requesting and submitting laboratory tests. If an isolation facility is required, tests typically cannot be performed until the animals have entered that facility. Follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the District Office that will be endorsing the certificate for guidance on procedures for the submission of laboratory results. Unless original signed copies of test results are required, results can be sent electronically.

  2. Consult with a USDA-approved laboratory prior to sample collection to check that the laboratory can conduct the specific test and coordinate with their testing schedule.

  3. Request the specific test type and negative dilution titer for each disease.

  4. Include the date samples were collected on the submission form.

  5. Indicate this is a test request for international export and specify the destination country.

  6. Notify the laboratory personnel about the required format for the test results sent to the District Office and request a copy of the results be sent to you for your client’s records.

  7. Perform any additional treatments required by the destination country (e.g., treatments for parasites).

  8. Administer all treatments in accordance with the label directions.

  9. Contact your Assistant Director (AD) if the destination country has requested a treatment that is outside the label directions.

  10. Include all details related to the active ingredient, dose, and route of administration as requested on the certificate.

  11. Do not paraphrase the required certification statements.

I just completed my reaccreditation for the National Veterinary Accreditation Program and realized that the general public has no idea how veterinarians serve as quasi-governmental officials that help keep the state and nation’s livestock, poultry, companion and other animals safe and healthy.

I thought this was a great opportunity to share that information.

As described by USDA

Accredited veterinarians are essential in surveillance, control, and eradication programs for many diseases. For movement of animals within the State, between States, or internationally, a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) or International Health Certificate (IHC) is usually required. These documents serve as a record, attesting to the lack of apparent illness in animals inspected by an accredited veterinarian These documents also serve as proof of documented test results and certification statements.

By performing these services, veterinarians assume certain liabilities:

By completing and signing a CVI or IHC for an animal, you are using your professional judgment based on available information. Under no circumstance should a certificate be completed and signed when the health of an animal is questionable or the information provided is not accurate and complete. Your diligence can prevent animals from introducing disease into flocks within a given State, other States or countries.

IHCs and CVIs issued by an accredited veterinarian are legal documents. Providing false or incorrect information may subject you to civil and criminal action as well as suspension or revocation of your accredited status. In the event that an error, omission, or irregularity in a submitted certificate is noted by VS personnel, APHIS Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) is notified and is responsible for investigating alleged violations.

USDA warns veterinarians that certain actions can increase their potential liability, such as:

  • leaving blanks on paperwork post-signature for the staff to fill in later;

  • allowing owners to submit animal tissue or blood samples to the laboratory for testing; and

  • failing to confirm the official identification of the animals(s) being certified.

Animals that are transported interstate without the proper paperwork could be quarantined, confiscated or worse.

Veterinarians performing services as under the federal accreditation program should take those responsibilities seriously to avoid legal challenges and ensure that animals are properly examined and documented.

 

First published on April 3, 2016, 10:27 p.m. MST, at http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2016/04/04/puppy-mill-sb1248/82532418/

Republished with permission.

My Turn: No one wants inhumane breeders to flourish. But puppy mill ordinances have unintended consequences that make matters worse.

Animal welfare is a philosophy that promotes stewardship of species and individual animals. Many of us practice this philosophy day in and day out while engaging others for the cause. Pet owners, breeders, veterinarians, pet store owners, and even Arizona’s elected officials all share one thing in common: we all want to provide humane treatment for animals.

However, when public officials consider legislation or ordinances aimed at addressing animal-welfare problems, they need complete and balanced information about the issues involved to create effective laws. Far too often, what looks good on paper creates harmful unintended consequences and far-reaching repercussions.

Pet-store bans won’t stop bad breeders

So it is with pet-store bans, the current legislative cure-all being offered to eliminate “puppy mills.” Eliminating inhumane breeders is a worthy goal everyone can embrace.

VALDEZ: Arizona bill sacrifices puppies for profit

PET SHOP OWNER: Puppy mill law won’t do what it says

The problem is, a retail pet-store ban will have no effect on the bad breeders it is trying to eradicate. Instead of eliminating them, it will drive them to Craigslist, the Internet, parking lot and flea market sales, and to retail rescues, outlets where animal care is unregulated and consumers will receive no health warranty.

History has amply demonstrated that banning anything the public wants only creates new unregulated channels of commerce.

In the same way that Prohibition created speakeasies and backwoods stills, banning pet stores will make matters worse. That is why the city council of Carlsbad, Calif., repealed its pet-retail ban a month after the law’s implementation, realizing that unscrupulous actors are the problem, not pet stores.

A better idea: Improve standards of care

Instead of passing outright bans, lawmakers need to target the unacceptable practices directly by enacting laws that require higher standards of care and increased transparency. Those who violate such laws need to be held accountable for their negligence.

Fortunately, the Arizona state Legislature is responsibly and constructively addressing these ordinances banning pet sales, which are often based on incomplete or biased information and without a thorough consideration of potential consequences.

Senate Bill 1248, which is being considered by the Legislature, would improve animal welfare by bolstering the pet industry’s standards, strengthening disclosure, and prohibiting sweeping pet-sale bans in cities.

This legislation will ensure that pet stores acquire their animals only from accountable breeders who comply with all U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations. In addition, prospective buyers will be provided with the name and license number of the breeder, allowing them to see the conditions where these animals lived prior to acquisition.

Simply put, SB 1248 is a step in the right direction and its provisions will further efforts to improve animal well-being. Additionally, it will provide Arizonans more assurance when looking for a new family dog.

The National Animal Interest Alliance urges Arizona voters to contact their legislators in support of SB 1248. The alliance applauds Reps. Brenda Barton, Warren Petersen and Bob Thorpe, as well as Sens. John Kavanagh and Don Shooter for their work on this important issue.

By working together to create balanced and effective solutions, we can protect the animals we love and the citizens of Arizona.

Patti Strand is the president of the National Animal Interest Alliance, an animal-welfare organization that advocates for raising standards of animal care and treatment.​ Email her at naia@naiaonline.org.
Patti Strand is the president of the National Animal Interest Alliance, an animal-welfare organization that advocates for raising standards of animal care and treatment.​ Email her at naia@naiaonline.org.

The humane standards of care of animals are constantly changing, as informed by scientific advances. Animal agriculture, in particular, has been evolving for decades. Livestock housing techniques, like other husbandry practices, have continuously evolved to protect animals from exposure to diseases, pests, environmental extremes, and from each other. Animal scientists and veterinarians continuously research methods, techniques and equipment to maximize animal comfort, while providing necessary protection.

Some recent advances exemplify the importance of continued research in disease protection and husbandry techniques that benefit animals and humans alike.

As reported in the National Hog Farmer, Merck Animal Health has been granted “licensure of its Prescription Product, RNA Particle vaccine platform from the USDA.”

Merck Animal Health described its innovative vaccine platform, and its significance to animal industries:

The RP technology platform is used to make vaccines for swine, bovine, equine, avian, companion animal and farmed aquaculture diseases. Pathogens are collected from a farm and specific genes are sequenced and synthetically inserted into the platform creating RNA particles, making safe, potent vaccines able to provide herd-specific protection. This system was instrumental in producing the first conditionally licensed vaccine to help control porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, a deadly virus that has killed more than eight million piglets since suddenly emerging in the United States in 2013. It also was utilized to produce a conditionally licensed vaccine against H5 avian influenza, which was subsequently awarded a USDA Stockpile in October.

Perhaps this platform could be used to develop effective vaccines to protect horses infected with the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus which has increasingly spread throughout equine racing, show, and pleasure barns and facilities, resulting in prolonged quarantines, and unfortunately, illness and death.

Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation recently announced its intention to fund more than $1 million in projects, as reported by Matt Hegarty in the Daily Racing Form:

The 11 new projects include a study of the latency of equine herpesvirus in horse populations. A strain of equine herpesvirus, EHV-1, has wreaked havoc on racing circuits when the highly contagious disease has been detected at racetracks or training facilities, leading to quarantines and shipping restrictions.

Advances have not been limited to disease prevention.

Researchers have announced a probable solution to the culling of male chicks in the egg industry. Because males do not produce eggs, they are culled.

Now, as reported by ABC/Australia, scientists studying poultry diseases at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong “accidentally . . . made a breakthrough with biotechnology” discovering a way to identify male chick embryos before they hatched, making the culling of billions of male baby chicks unnecessary.

The scientists discovered they could inject an embryo with “a green fluorescent protein gene placed on the male chromosome” which could “ensure the males are never born, let alone culled.”

It is important to note that without biomedical research involving animals, these advances, which benefit animals, would not have been possible.

USDA has recently published proposed amendments to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations:

concerning the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of marine mammals in captivity. These proposed changes would affect sections in the regulations relating to variances and implementation dates, indoor facilities, outdoor facilities, space requirements, and water quality. We are also proposing to revise the regulations that relate to swim-with-the-dolphin programs.

USDA explains that the regulations, which were originally adopted in 1998 “based on the outcome of meetings of the Marine Mammal Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee” in the absence of significant relevant scientific studies or data, should be amended to incorporate findings from the body of relevant science-based research that has since become available.

Importantly, the proposed amendments include a summary of the history of the AWA, and the Congressional mandate that set forth USDA through the Secretary of Agriculture as the agency authorized to:

promulgate standards and other requirements governing the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of certain animals by dealers, research facilities, exhibitors, carriers, and other regulated entities.

The proposed amendments would

revise swim-with-the-dolphin program regulations, for which enforcement was suspended effective April 2, 1999.

. . .

The proposed standards address interactive program facility space requirements, layout, operations, staffing, recordkeeping, and related matters.

The amendments would also change regulations relating to “water quality and waterborne pathogens affecting marine mammals.”

There are also changes relating to standards for “air and water temperatures, ventilation, and lighting at regulated indoor facilities that house marine mammals.

The amendments relating to “swim with the dolphins” include:

[t]he term ‘‘interactive program’’ replaces ‘‘swim-with-the-dolphin program’’ since we are proposing to no longer use the term ‘‘swim-with-the-dolphin program,’’ as discussed below.

Section 1.1 defines an interactive session to mean a ‘‘swim-with-the-dolphin program session where members of the public enter a primary enclosure to interact with cetaceans.’’

USDA proposes to amend the following issues/animals:

Indoor facilities;

Lighting;

Outdoor facilities;

Space requirements;

General;

Space Requirements—Cetaceans;

Space Requirements—Sirenians;

Space Requirements—Pinnipeds;

Space Requirements—Polar Bears;

Space Requirements—Sea Otters;

Coliform Testing; and

Interactive Programs.

Congress, has empowered USDA to draft regulations regarding and to enforce the AWA.  Organizations and people who are interested in these proposed amendments have an opportunity to provide constructive comments to inform USDA regarding the standards that should be adopted to provide for the humane care of marine mammals.

 

A bill recently introduced in Rhode Island, S2180, would amend that state’s veterinary practice act by “allowing non-veterinarians to perform certain husbandry procedures that are commonly performed by owners of animal pets and livestock.”

Specifically, amendments provide that the practice of veterinary medicine does not include:

A person who conducts routine vaccinations or testing of poultry or livestock for the purposes of disease control activity under the supervision of an official state or federal agency or department of agriculture.

A person who advises with respect to or performs acts which are livestock management and animal husbandry practices that have been accepted and performed as required by the livestock welfare and care standards advisory council, pursuant to chapter 26 of title 4.

However the law prohibits the use of prescription drugs except by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian, as provided by state and federal law.

While the summary of the proposed bill specifies that it is amending these provisions because they are commonly performed by owners of animals pets . . . it seems clear that the existing and amended laws relate to vaccination or testing of poultry or livestock, or activities related to animal husbandry practices involving livestock.

The amendments seemingly expand diseases a person can routinely vaccinate or test poultry or livestock for disease control purposes beyond pullorum and typhoid, which this section is currently limited to.

However, the law still requires any such vaccination; testing or management practices to be under the supervision of an official or as otherwise permitted by law.

In New Jersey “as long as an individual, knowledgeable about poultry does not represent themselves as a veterinarian they may perform certain poultry husbandry techniques, but may not prescribe treatment or diagnose disease.” NJAC 13:44-4.3.

For those who may not be familiar with diseases of poultry, the following is a brief primer about Pullorum and Typhoid, with information available on USDA’s website.

Pullorum and Typhoid are diseases of poultry caused by different subtypes of Salmonella enterica.

According to USDA here and here:

Pullorum is an egg-transmitted disease of poultry, caused by Salmonella pullorum, that kills a high proportion (60–80 percent) of baby poultry.

Fowl typhoid is an egg-transmitted disease of poultry, caused by Salmonella gallinarum, that may result in significant mortality in both baby poultry and adult birds.

Pullorum disease, discovered in 1899, is a worldwide disease of chickens. The main reservoirs of infection are the egg-producing organs of the infected hen. Chicks from diseased hens are infected at conception inside the egg.

Pullorum disease will also affect turkeys, ducks, guinea fowl, pheasants, sparrows, quail, bittern, geese, pigeons, doves, parakeets, and canaries. The causative organism, Salmonella pullorum, rarely affects mammals.

Chickens are the natural host of Salmonella Gallinarum, but turkeys and most other domestic and wild fowl are susceptible. Salmonella Gallinarum has been rarely isolated from humans and is of little public health significance.

Prevention of the disease is best obtained through management practices aimed at preventing the introduction of disease into the flock. Disease control is done by testing and eliminating carriers. Eggs and birds should be obtained from flocks free of pullorum disease. Proper sanitation and biosecurity measures must be implemented to reduce the risk of disease introduction through contaminated feed, and other outside sources.

The National Poultry Improvement Plan (“NPIP”) is a federal plan started in the early 1930s to coordinate State programs aimed at eliminating pullorum from commercial poultry. NPIP has since implemented other disease programs.

Most states in the NPIP are now considered U.S. Pullorum-Typhoid Clean.

Farmers are often accused of raising livestock on “factory farms” and therefore treating their animals cruelly if they are house their animals indoors. Of course the opposite is true. The purpose of indoor housing is to protect livestock from harsh external environment, and to decrease exposure to internal and external parasites and diseases spread by wildlife, insects or other vectors, thereby improving their overall health.

Animal agriculture, like any other science-based practice, continues to evolve as informed by research by animal scientists and veterinarians who search for environments that provide for animal health and welfare, while minimizing risk to farmers, their employees and the environment.

While activists insist that livestock are better off living outdoors, many studies have proven the opposite. Yet another report was recently published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, “Diversity and Prevalence of Ectoparasites on Backyard Chicken Flocks in California,” which identified the increased prevalence of ectoparasites in “backyard chickens” as compared to commercial raised chickens, housed indoors.

The researchers reported ectoparasites collected on 80% of the premises in southern California surveyed included:

lice (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera and Amblycera), fleas (Siphonaptera), and mites (Acari: Astigmata and Mesostigmata). Lice were the most prevalent and abundant of all ectoparasite groups . . . . The chicken body louse, M. stramineus, was collected on 50% of premises and 36% of birds. It was the most abundant species recovered and sometimes was quite dense on individual birds, with dozens to hundreds of specimens seen.

Notably, “the species [the researchers] collected in backyard flocks have been rare or absent in commercial battery-cage layer flocks in southern California over the past 30 years.”

These results are not surprising.

Increased prevalence of infectious disease and parasites is a well-known risk of outdoor housing of livestock.

This is reflected in USDA’s pseudorabies program (a disease affected primarily swine) which requires more rigorous testing and other requirements of “transitional herds” as compared to “commercial herds” based on the increased risk of the spread of this virus in transitional herds, which the agency defines as:

Those feral swine that are captive or swine that have reasonable opportunities to be exposed to feral swine.

In comparison, USDA defines “Commercial production swine” as

Those swine that are continuously managed and have adequate facilities and practices to prevent exposure to either transitional production or feral swine.

These designations have real-life consequences for farmers, states who implement the federal programs, and ultimately the ability of the entire national industry to export swine and pork products since access to interstate and international markets is based on the disease status of a region, state and country.

Like all other issues involving animals and their care, the safe and humane housing of livestock and poultry is complicated and requires a careful analysis of a multitude of factors to determine what is best for animals, the people who care for them, the public and the environment.