United States Department of Agriculture
Marketing and Regulatory Programs
When you visit the grocery store, you know you'll find an abundance and variety of top-quality produce, meats, and dairy products. If you're like most people, you probably don't give a second thought to the marketing system that brings that food from the farm to your table. Yet, this state-of-the-art marketing system makes it possible to pick and choose from a variety of products, available all year around, tailored to meet the demands of today's lifestyles. Millions of people-from grower to retailer-make this marketing system work. Buyers, traders, scientists, factory workers, transportation experts, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, advertising firms-in addition to the Nation's farmers-all help create a marketing system that is unsurpassed by any in the world. And USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) helps make sure the U.S. marketing system remains world-class.
Services to Promote Quality: Grading, Quality Standards, and
In the grocery store, USDA quality grade marks are usually seen on beef, lamb, veal, chicken, turkey, butter, and eggs. For many other products, such as freehand processed fruits and vegetables, the grade mark isn't always visible on the retail product. For these commodities, wholesalers use the grading service, and the final retail packaging may not include the grade mark. However, quality grades are widely used-even if they are not prominently displayed-as a "language" among traders.
Grading is based on standards, and standards are based on measurable attributes that describe the value and utility of the product. Beef quality standards, for instance, are based on attributes such as marbling (the amount of fat interspersed with lean meat), color, firmness, texture, and age of the animal, for each grade. In turn, these factors are a good indication of tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of the meat-all characteristics important to consumers. Prime, Choice, and Select are all grades familiar to consumers of beef.
Standards for each product describe the entire range of quality for a product, and the number of grades varies by commodity. There are eight grades for beef, and three each for chickens, eggs, and turkeys. On the other hand, there are 45 grades for cotton, 32 grade standards and specifications for dairy products, and more than 312 fruit, vegetable, and specialty product standards.
The food testing side of the AMS program has six user-funded laboratories performing numerous microbiological, chemical, and physical analyses on a host of food and fiber commodities, including processed dairy products, meat, poultry, egg products, and fruits and vegetables. This testing supports AM purchases for the National School Lunch Program and other domestic feeding programs, troop ration specifications for the Department of Defense, export tofus. food to foreign countries, laboratory quality control and assurance programs, and testing for aflatoxin in peanut products.
AMS has developed quality assurance (QA) services that include Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-based programs. These programs ensure and document that companies' operations are in compliance with provisions of contracts and/or their own standards and procedures. QA services are voluntary, hourly-fee-based, and value-added. HACCP concepts and procedures have been recommended by the National Academy of Sciences for application in the food industry, and ISO procedures are becoming an international norm for some processes.
One such service AMS has developed is the Process Verification Program, which provides livestock and meat producers, along with other businesses in the agricultural industry, an opportunity to assure customers of their ability to provide consistent quality products by having their written manufacturing processes confirmed through independent, third-party audits. AMS Process Verified suppliers are able to have marketing claims, such as breed, feeding practices, or other raising claims verified by the USDA and marketed as "USDA Process Verified."
AMS' Dairy Programs conducts comprehensive evaluations of dairy and related products, manufacturing plant facilities, and equipment to assure their eligibility to receive grading service and display the grade shield on products. Associated with this service is a sanitary design evaluation service for processing equipment. Under this service, processors can have the sanitary aspects of the design and the clean ability of a machine or process evaluated prior to installation in their facility. A similar service is also offered by AMS for the meat and poultry industry.
Spreading the News
In 2001, AMS launched the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting (LMPR) program as required by the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 1999. As a leading example of electronic government in USDA, the LMPR program requires packers to electronically submit purchase and sale information to AMS. The resulting data, reported by AMS, supplies the agricultural industry with multiple daily and weekly reports covering new transaction data for slaughter cattle, swine, lamb, beef and lamb meat.
Overall, AMS Market News reporters generate approximately 700 reports each day, collected from more than 100 U.S. locations. Reports cover local, regional, national, and international markets for dairy, livestock, meat, poultry, eggs, grain, fruit, vegetables, tobacco, cotton, and specialty products. Weekly, biweekly, monthly, and annual reports track the longer range performance of cotton, dairy products, poultry and eggs, fruits, vegetables, specialty crops, livestock, meat, grain, floral products, feeds, wool, and tobacco. Periodically, AMS issues special reports on such commodities as olive oil, pecans, peanuts, and honey.
Buying Food: Helping Farmers, School Children, and Needy
Some of the programs and groups that typically receive USDA-purchased food include: children in the National School Lunch, Summer Camp, and School Breakfast Programs; Native Americans participating in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations; older Americans through the Nutrition Program for the Elderly; and low-income and homeless persons through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. In addition, USDA helps provide disaster relief by making emergency purchases of commodities for distribution to disaster victims.
Pesticides: Information and Records
Helping Farmers Promote Their Products
Federal research and promotion programs, authorized by Federal legislation, are designed to strengthen the industry's position in the marketplace and to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets. The programs are all fully funded by industry assessments. Board members are nominated by industry and appointed officially by the Secretary of Agriculture. AMS oversees the activities of the boards or councils and approves budgets, in order to assure compliance with the legislation.
Currently, there are research and promotion programs for beef, lamb, pork, cotton, fluid milk, dairy products, eggs, honey, mushrooms, potatoes, soybeans, watermelons, popcorn, peanuts, and cultivated blueberries.
But, while advertising is one part of these programs, product research and development is also a major focus. Wrinkle-resistant cotton and low-fat dairy products are just two examples of how these programs have benefited consumers and expanded markets for producers.
Marketing Orders: Solving Producers' Marketing Problems
Federal milk marketing orders, for example, establish minimum prices that milk handlers or dealers must pay to producers for milk, depending on how that milk issued-whether fluid milk, ice cream, cheese, or other storable product. Federal milk orders help build more stable marketing conditions by operating at the first level of trade, where milk leaves the farm and enters the marketing system. They are flexible in order to cope with market changes. They assure that consumers will have a steady supply of fresh milk at all times.
Marketing agreements and orders also help provide stable markets for fruit, vegetable, and specialty crops like nuts and raisins, to the benefit of producers and consumers. They help farmers produce for a market, rather than having to market whatever happens to be produced. A marketing order may help an industry smooth the flow of crops moving to market, to alleviate seasonal shortages and gluts. In addition, marketing orders help maintain the quality of produce being marketed; standardize packages or containers; and authorize advertising, research, and market development. Each program is tailored to the individual industrys marketing needs.
Ensuring Fair-Trade in the Market
The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) program promotes fair-trading in the fresh and frozen fruit and vegetable industry. Through PACA, buyers and sellers are required to live up to the terms of their contracts, and procedures are available for resolving disputes outside the civil court system.
Fruitland vegetable buyers and sellers need this assurance because of the highly perishable nature of their products. Trading in produce is considerably different than trading for a car, a computer, or even grain. When a vegetable grower doesn't get paid, the product usually can't be reclaimed before it spoils-or before it has already been consumed.
The Federal Seed Act (FSA) protects everyone who buys seed by prohibiting false labeling and advertising of seed in interstate commerce. The FSA also complements State seed laws by prohibiting the shipment of seed containing excessive noxious weed seeds. Labels for agricultural seed must state such information as the kinds and percentage of seed in the container, percentages of foreign matter and weed seeds, germination percentage and the date tested, and the name and address of the shipper. USDA also tests seed for seeds men aniseed buyers on a fee-for-service basis to determine quality.
The Plant Variety Protection Act provides intellectual property rights protection to breeders of plants that reproduce both sexually, that is, through seeds, and through tubers. Developers of new plant varieties can apply for certificates of protection. This protection enables the breeder to market the variety exclusively for 20 years and, in so doing, creates an incentive for investment in the development of new plant varieties. Since 1970, AMS' Plant Variety Protection Office has issued more than 5,000 certificates of protection.
The Agricultural Fair Practices Act allows farmers to file complaints with USDA if a processor refuses to deal with them because they are members of a producers' bargaining or marketing association. The Act makes it unlawful for handlers to coerce, intimidate, or discriminate against producers because they belong to such groups. USDA helps to institute court proceedings when farmers' rights are found to be so violated.
The Shell Egg Surveillance Program protects consumers and producers from those who would pack eggs for consumers with more low-quality shell eggs, such as dirty, cracked, and leaking eggs, than permitted by U.S. Consumer Grade B standards. Producers that would do so, intentionally or otherwise, are able to gain a financial advantage over other producers who do not. When mixed in with high-quality eggs, these low-quality eggs can be sold at a higher price, instead of being diverted for production of liquid and frozen egg products. Also consumers suffer by receiving lower quality eggs at high-quality prices.
The final rule went into effect October 2002. Consumers can now be assured that all organic food sold in the United States meets the same high standards and the new labels will help them to know the organic content of the food they buy.
Consumers should also look for the USDA Organic Seal, which may appear on all food, processed or raw, that is at least 95 percent organic.
Direct Marketing and Market Development
Efficient Transportation for Agriculture
AMS, through its Transportation and Marketing Programs, conducts research and issues periodic reports on the logistical requirements and constraints involved in transporting and distributing U.S. agricultural products to destination markets by railroads, trucks, inland barges, and ocean vessels, and monitors the adequacy of existing infrastructure to support efficient commerce. The research reports provided by AMS transportation and marketing specialists are designed to help agricultural growers, processors, shippers, and exporters respond more effectively to emerging changes in both the domestic and international marketplace and are specifically targeted to help the smaller grower, processor, shipper, or exporter who may lack easy access to relevant market data and research. AMS also provides funding to academic institutions and nonprofit organizations for the purpose of investigating alternative marketing channels for agricultural items produced by limited-resource farmers and processors.
Produce Locally, Think Globally
Grading involves determining whether a product meets a set of quality standards. Certification ensures that contract specifications have been met-in other words, that the buyer receives the product in the condition and quantity described by the terms of the contract. AMS commodity graders frequently support other USDA agencies involved in export assistance, including the Farm Service Agency and the Foreign Agricultural Service.
U.S. companies often request certification services when exporting to a country that has specific import requirements. Certification services provided by AMS help avoid rejection of shipments or delay in delivery once the product reaches its foreign destination. Delays lead to product deterioration, shipper losses, and, ultimately, affect the image of U.S. quality. AMS' Quality Systems Verification Program, a user-funded service for the meat industry, provides independent, third-party verification of a supplier's documented quality management system. The program was developed to promote world-class quality and to improve the international competitiveness of U.S. livestock and meat. AMS also certifies that all dairy products exported to the European Union (EU) meet the requirements of a trade agreement between the United States and the EU.
AM provides laboratory testing for exporters of U.S. food commodities on a fee basis in keeping with sanitary and phytosanitary requirements of foreign countries. To date, this service has been requested by exporters of products destined for Japan, South Korea, and other Pacific Rim countries, South Africa, European Union member countries, and countries of the former Soviet Union. AMS also provides a seed testing service used by U.S. seed exporters. Seed analysis certificates containing test results have been issued for seed exported to more than 50 countries.
For selected fruits, vegetables, nuts (including peanuts), and specialty crops, the grading of imports is mandatory. For the most part, however, firms importing agricultural products into the United States use grading services voluntarily. AMS graders are also often asked to demonstrate commodity quality to foreign firms and governments.
In addition to export grading and certification services, AMS Market News offices provide information on sales and prices of both imports and exports. Today, U.S. market participants can receive market information on livestock and meat from Venezuela, New Zealand, Japan, Poland, and other Pacific Rim markets, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; poultry from Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands; fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals from Argentina, Bulgaria, France, Canada, Chile, Columbia, the Caribbean Basin, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, and Spain; dairy products from Eastern and Western Europe and Oceania; and a host of products from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
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Protecting Agricultural Health and Productivity
Of course, there's no simple answer. But one key to this plentiful supply of food can be summed up in a single phrase: "Healthy crops and livestock."
And this is no accident. America's agricultural health is a result of a team effort-good husbandry by farmers and ranchers plus an organized effort to exclude foreign pests and diseases and control and eradicate those agricultural threats that make their way past our defenses.
If agriculture is the foundation of manufacture and commerce, there is perhaps no greater mission than making sure that foundation remains healthy and strong. With the advent of free trade initiatives, a global network of countries has agreed that valid agricultural health concerns-not politics nor economics-are the only acceptable basis for trade restrictions. In this environment, our country's agricultural health infrastructure will be our farmers' greatest ally in seeking new export markets.
Safeguarding U.S. Agriculture
Invasive species are no indigenous organisms that cause, or are likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, plant and animal health, or public health if introduced into the country. Organisms considered to be invasive species can include terrestrial or aquatic plants, animals, and disease agents. The estimated economic harm to the United States from these biological invaders runs in the tens of billions of dollars and may exceed $120 billion annually.
Problems associated with invasive species are national in scope and are becoming more and more widespread. For instance, conservation experts estimate that an average of 3 million acres of land throughout the United States are lost to invasive plants each year.
While the United States faces an ever-increasing challenge in managing invasive species that are currently thriving across our Nation, preventing the introduction of new invasive species also has become more challenging in todays global environment. Worldwide opportunities for international commerce and travel have reached unprecedented levels. Unfortunately, this global activity has increased greatly the number of pathways for the movement and introduction of foreign, invasive agricultural pests and diseases.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) historically has worked hard to safeguard American agricultural resources and prevent damage to our natural ecosystems from the introduction and establishment of those invasive species that threaten the health and vitality of domestic plants and animals.
Over the last several years, APHIS has refined and modernized its agricultural safeguarding system, especially at U.S. border crossings and other international ports of entry. This system is a combination of regulatory, inspection, and anti-smuggling programs designed to keep plant and animal products that could carry pests or diseases out of the United States. Since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain in 2001, APHIS has hired additional inspection personnel at major U.S. ports of entry and ensured heightened vigilance against this disease and other serious pest and disease risks to U.S. agriculture.
APHIS has also further intensified agency insecurity efforts as a result of the events of September 11, 2001. In combination with earlier efforts to bolster the Nations defenses against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), APHIS, now more than ever, is confident in its ability to detect and respond to the accidental or intentional introduction of animal or plant pest and diseases. Below is a summary of the numerous short- and long-term measures APHIS has taken to strengthen its infrastructure and safeguarding programs.
Two key pieces of legislation recently passed into law have also augmented APHIS' authority-and ability-to safeguard U.S. agriculture. The Plant Protection Act of 2000 and the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002provide greater protection for our Nation's agricultural commodities.
The Plant Protection Act gives APHIS new tools for enforcing the plant quarantine laws by establishing more effective deterrents against smuggling. Agency officials can now assess larger fines, secure subpoenas, and prosecute serious offenders in Federal Court. In addition, an amendment to the Plant Protection Act under the 2002 Farm Bill provides for a felony provision, which increases criminal penalties from misdemeanors to felonies if an individual knowingly imports, enters, exports, or moves for distribution or sale in violation of the Act.
Congress passed the Animal Health Protection Act as part of the 2002 Farm Bill. The Act consolidates more than 20 animal quarantine and related laws. In addition, it increases APHIS' authority to deter people from deliberately bringing into the United States prohibited animals, animal products, and even animal disease agents. The maximum fines for deliberate violations of APHIS import regulations have increased from $1,000 per violation to $50,000 per violation for individuals and up to $500,000 for companies.
In addition to its safeguarding mission, APHIS also helps facilitate trade by ensuring that both U.S. agricultural products exported throughout the world and foreign agricultural imports are free of plant and animal pests and diseases. In fiscal year 2000, APHIS helped to resolve 67 foreign trade disputes that centered around plant and animal health issues. These efforts, in turn, permitted trade to occur worth over $2.5 billion to U.S. farmers and producers.
The Components of APHIS' Safeguarding System
Agricultural Quarantine Inspection
Similarly, sausages and other meat products from many countries can contain animal disease organisms that can live for many months and even survive processing. Meat scraps from abroad could end up in garbage that is fed to swine. If the meat came from animals infected with a disease, such as African swine fever or hog cholera, it could easily be passed to domestic swine, and a serious epidemic could result. An outbreak of African swine fever in U.S. hogs would drive up the price of pork to consumers, cost hundreds of millions of dollars to eradicate, and close many U.S. export markets.
APHIS safeguards U.S. borders against the entry of foreign agricultural pests and diseases. At 187 U.S. ports of entry, about 3,300 Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) employees inspect international conveyances and the baggage of passengers for plant and animal products that could harbor pests or disease organisms. At some of these international ports, detector dogs in APHIS Beagle Brigade help find prohibited agricultural materials. PPQ officers also inspect ship and air cargoes, rail and truck freight, and package mail from foreign countries. At animal import centers, APHIS veterinarians check animalism quarantine to make sure they are not infected with any foreign pests or diseases before being allowed into the country.
In fiscal year 2001, APHIS officials inspected about 52,000 maritime vessels,540,000 aircraft, 85,000,000 airplane and cruise ship passengers, 2,200,000cargo shipments, and 454,000 rail cars for prohibited or infested agricultural products that could threaten the health of U.S. agriculture. APHIS officials intercepted and impounded prohibited materials over 1.7 million times while carrying out inspection duties. APHIS also issued approximately 16,000 civil penalties to international travelers in baggage areas at U.S. airports for failing to declare prohibited agricultural products from abroad. In confiscating these prohibited products, APHIS detected an estimated 71,000 pests that could have seriously damaged America's agricultural and natural resources, if left unchecked.
Screwworms were eradicated from the United States through the use of the sterile insect technique. With this method, millions of screwworm flies are reared in captivity, sterilized, and then released over infested areas to mate with native fertile flies. Eggs produced through such mating do not hatch, and the insect literally breeds itself out of existence.
To provide further protection to U.S. livestock, starting in 1972, eradication efforts were moved southward from the U.S.-Mexican border, with the eventual goal of establishing a barrier of sterile flies across the Isthmus of Panama.
Coping With Invasions
Early detection of exotic animal diseases by alert livestock producers and practicing veterinarians who contact specially trained State and Federal veterinarians is the key to the quick detection and elimination of a foreign animal disease of concern. More than 300 such trained veterinarians are located throughout the United States to investigate suspected foreign diseases. Within 24 hours of diagnosis, one of two specially trained task forces in VS can be mobilized at the site of an outbreak to implement the measures necessary to eradicate the disease.
Currently, APHIS officials are actively working to prevent the entry of bovine spongiformencephalopathy (BSE)-sometimes referred to as "mad cow disease." BSE has never been diagnosed in the United States. Since 1989,APHIS has restricted the importation of live ruminants and ruminant products-including animal feed made with ruminant protein-from Great Britain and other countries where BSE is known to exist. In 1997, APHIS extended these restrictions to include all of the countries of Europe. As of December2000, APHIS prohibited all imports of rendered animal protein products, regardless of species, from Europe. In addition, APHIS has conducted a BSE surveillance program since 1989. Specialists have examined brain specimens from more than 21,000 cattle and have found no evidence of BSE.
Plant Health Safeguarding Review
Animal Health Safeguarding Review
The safeguarding review's recommendations focus on, among other things, APHIS' domestic and international disease monitoring programs; the critical nature of cooperative emergency response planning; and improvements tithe agency's information collection and dissemination strategies.
Importation requirements depend on both the product and the region of origin. Certain restrictions, ranging from testing or processing to total import prohibition, are placed on both animals and animal products if they originate in countries that have a different disease status from the United States. Livestock and poultry must be accompanied by a health certificate issued by an official of the exporting country.
Imports of livestock and poultry from most countries must enter the United States through APHIS-approved quarantine facilities. Animals from Mexico and Canada may cross at land ports along the borders as long as they have met certain specified requirements and are accompanied by the appropriate paperwork. Personally owned pet birds of foreign origin can enter through one of four USDA-operated bird quarantine facilities: New York, NY; Miami, FL; San Ysidro, CA; and Hidalgo, TX.
Imported plants must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by an official of the exporting country. APHIS maintains 16 plant inspection stations, the largest of which is in Miami, FL, for commercial importation of plant materials. Smaller stations are at Orlando, FL; San Juan, PR; John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, NY; Linden, NJ; Houston, El Paso, and Los Indies (Brownsville), TX; Nogales, AZ; San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Honolulu, HI; Beltsville, MD (used strictly for importations of plants for research purposes); and New Orleans, LA.
To facilitate agricultural exports, APHIS officials certify the health of both plants and animals that are shipped to foreign countries. APHIS PPQ provides assurance that U.S. plants and plant products meet the plant quarantine import requirements of foreign countries.
It is in the area of foreign animal health requirements that APHIS is of greatest help to the U.S. livestock industry. Through direct negotiations with foreign governments, APHIS has established approximately 450 livestock, semen, embryo, and poultry health agreements with more than 100 countries in the world. These negotiations are continuous process wherever APHIS finds opportunities to open new markets and to reduce unnecessary impediments or changing disease conditions require adjustments.
Domestic Plant Health Programs
"Deliver Us From Weevil"-Boll Weevil Eradication
The current boll weevil eradication effort judiciously applies pesticides based on the number of adult weevils trapped around cotton fields. The traps contain pheromone and a small amount of insecticide that kills all captured weevils. In eradication program areas, traps are placed at a rate of one trap per 1 to 3acres and are checked weekly. Pesticide is applied only to fields that reach a predetermined number of trapped weevils. This selective use of pesticides results in fields requiring minimal pesticide applications-sometimes none-during the growing season. After several seasons, the weevils are eradicated within the defined program area, eliminating any further need to spray for this pest.
The National Boll Weevil Eradication Program is one-third complete with total eradication projected by the end of 2005 or beginning of 2006. Approximately5.9 million acres of cotton spread over nine States are now weevil-free. These States include Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kansas, Arizona, and California. Eradication efforts are underway on9.7 million additional acres, which include nearly all other areas of the country affected by the boll weevil.
Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB)
The program wide implementation of the insecticide imidacloprid in Chicago and New York has increased confidence that ALB can be eradicated through an aggressive combination of chemical treatment, survey, quarantine, and tree removal.Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide approved for the eradication of ALB ands found in many common lawn and garden pesticides and dog and cat flea control products. Each no infested tree to be treated is inoculated via small capsules containing imidacloprid that is absorbed naturally through the trees vascular system. The process takes approximately 4 hours per tree and can remain effective up to 1 year. Over 70,000 trees in New York City and 55,000trees on Long Island were treated with imidacloprid in the spring of 2002.
Since the citrus canker eradication program's inception, APHIS and the State of Florida have spent approximately $300 million combating the disease. This figure excludes compensation funds provided to commercial citrus growers.
Domestic Animal Health Programs
VS veterinary medical officers and animal health technicians work with their State counterparts and with livestock producers to carry out cooperative programs to control and eradicate certain animal diseases. The decision to begin nationwide campaign against a domestic animal disease is based on a number of factors, the most important of which is: "Are producers and the livestock industry a leading force in the campaign?" To date, 13 serious livestock and poultry diseases have been eradicated from the United States. They are: (sidebar 12-1)
Current VS disease eradication programs include cooperative State-Federal efforts directed at cattle and swine brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, and pseudorabiesin swine.
Disease control and eradication measures include quarantines to stop the movement of possibly infected or exposed animals, testing and examination to detect infection, destruction of infected (sometimes exposed) animals to prevent further disease spread, treatment to eliminate parasites, vaccination in some cases, and cleaning and disinfections of contaminated premises.
APHIS animal health programs are carried out by a field force of about 250veterinarians and 360 inspectors working out of area offices. Laboratory support for these programs is supplied by APHIS' National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) at Ames, IA, and Plum Island, NY, which are centers of excellence in the diagnostic sciences and an integral part of APHIS' animal health programs.
Under the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act of 1913, APHIS enforces regulations to assure that animal vaccines and other veterinary biologics are safe, pure, potent, and effective. Veterinary biologics are products designed to diagnose, prevent, or treat animal diseases. They are used to protect or diagnose disease in a variety of domestic animals, including farm animals, household pets, poultry, fish, and furbearers.
APHIS also regulates the licensing and production of genetically engineered vaccines and other veterinary biologics. These products range from diagnostic kits for feline leukemia virus to genetically engineered vaccines to preventpseudorabies, a serious disease-affecting swine. Since the first vaccine was licensed in 1979, a total of 79 genetically engineered biologics have been licensed; all but 20 are still being produced.
Monitoring Plant and Animal Pests and Diseases
By accessing NAPIS, users can retrieve the latest data on pests. NAPIS data can assist pest forecasting, early pest warning, quicker and more precise delimiting efforts, and better planning for plant pest eradication or control efforts.
Regulating Biotechnology in Agriculture
Since1987, APHIS' role in agricultural biotechnology has been to manage and oversee regulations to ensure the safe and rapid development of the products of biotechnology. Under APHIS' effective regulations and practical guidelines, applicants can safely field test-outside of the physical containment of the laboratory-genetically engineered organisms.
APHIS officials issue permits or acknowledge notification for the importation, interstate movement, or field testing of genetically engineered plants, micro-organisms, and invertebrates that are developed from components of plant pathogenic material.
Since1987, APHIS has issued more than 8,700 release permits and notifications Atmore than 30,000 sites in the United States. The biotechnology regulations also provide for an exemption process once it has been established that genetically engineered product does not present a plant pest risk. Under this process, applicants can petition APHIS for a determination of non-regulated status for specific genetically engineered products. Over the past 10 years, 53new engineered plant lines in 15 crops have been proven safe and no longer need to be regulated by APHIS. One was the first genetically engineered sugar beet, which is herbicide tolerant.
Managing Wildlife Damage
Themed for effective and environmentally sound wildlife damage management is rising dramatically. There are several reasons for this. Increased suburban development is intruding upon traditional wildlife habitats. Population explosions among some adaptable wildlife species-such as coyotes, deer, and geese-pose increasing risks to human activities. At the same time, advances in science and technology are providing alternative methods forsolving wildlife problems.
More than half of U.S. farmers experience economic loss from damage caused by wildlife. WS plays a leadership role in cooperative efforts with the States and agriculture producers across the country to protect farm crops, livestock, aquaculture, and forest resources from damage caused by wildlife. Annual wildlife depredation losses to selected agricultural commodities in the United States have been documented by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The losses for 2001 include estimated losses of more than $178million to livestock and poultry resources; over $146 million in losses for producers of vegetables, fruits and nuts; and more than $14 million in losses for producers of farm-raised catfish and trout. Wildlife damage to U.S. agriculture as a whole is estimated at approximately $944 million each year.
WS deals with a wide variety of wildlife problems, ranging from reducing the threat of wildlife-borne diseases to managing hazards caused by wildlife at airports, to protecting endangered species from predation by other wildlife. Here are a few examples of WS recent efforts to manage the damage caused by wildlife in the United States:
APHIS National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC), the world's only research facility devoted entirely to the development of methods for managing wildlife damage, accounts for about one-fourth of WS' budget. In existence since the 1940s, NWRC has an integrated, multi-disciplinary research program that is uniquely suited to provide scientific information and solutions to wildlife damage problems.
Humane Care of Animals
For more than a quarter century, USDA has enforced the AWA and its standards and regulations to prevent trafficking in lost and stolen pets and protect covered animals from inhumane treatment and neglect. The AWA prohibits staged dogfights, bear and raccoon baiting, and similar animal fighting ventures. It also requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for most warm-blooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. This includes animals exhibited in zoos, circuses, and marine mammal facilities, as well as pets transported on commercial airlines.
Individuals who operate regulated businesses must be licensed or registered with USDA and provide their animals with adequate care and treatment in the areas of housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water, veterinary care, and protection from extremes of weather and temperature. They must also keep accurate acquisition and disposition records and a description of every animal that comes into their possession.
In enforcing the AWA, APHIS conducts prelicensing inspections of licensees. Before issuing a license, applicants must be in compliance with all standards and regulations under the AWA. APHIS also conducts randomly scheduled unannounced inspections to ensure that all regulated facilities continue to comply with the Act.
In FY 2000,APHIS pursued numerous cases against individuals who were not in compliance with the AWA. The tables above provide data on APHIS' inspection and enforcement efforts for FY 1998-2000 (table 12-1).
USDA also enforces the HPA, which prohibits horses subjected to a process called soring from participating in exhibitions, sales, shows, or auctions. In addition, the act prohibits drivers from hauling sored horses across State lines to compete in shows. The law was first passed in 1970 and amended in 1976.
Current APHIS services include licensing of fish vaccines and other biologics under the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act; managing bird and mammal depredation to commercial fish stocks; and providing health certification services for exports. We are currently working to expand our aquatic animal health activities and underlying authority to support industry efforts to increase exports of aquaculturalproducts around the world and for coordinating interstate regulation.
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The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products and promotes fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture.
Federal Grain Inspection Program
GIPSA also provides a wide range of inspection and weighing services, on a fee basis, through the official grain inspection and weighing system, a unique partnership of Federal, State, and private agencies. In fiscal year 2001, the official system performed over 2 million inspections on 235 million metric tons of grain.
Specifically, under the U.S. Grain Standards Act, and those provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (AMA) that relate to inspection of rice, pulses, lentils, and processed grain products, the Federal Grain Inspection Service:
GIPSA also is developing standard testing procedures to identify grain quality traits desired by world markets and to better measure end-use functionality. By serving as an impartial third party, and by ensuring that the Official U.S. Standards for Grain are applied and that weights are recorded fairly and accurately, GIPSA and the official grain inspection and weighing system advance the orderly and efficient marketing and effective distribution of U.S. grain and other assigned commodities from the Nation's farms to destinations around the world.
Packers and Stockyards Programs
Packer and Poultry Trust Activities
Scales and Weighing Activities
Analysis of Structural Change
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