What are Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a Federal CWD Rule?

January 8, 2014

AYR, NE- During the last ACA meeting Council Members were asked to go back to their respective associations and determine how their members feel about the Federal Chronic Wasting Disease Rule and Standards.  USDA has stated “if the industry has a federal rule it must have program standards.”  To date, both the federal rule and Program Standards have been under fire as the catalyst for increased regulations on cervid producers. During the ACA Council Meeting, an update was given by the ACA attorneys concerning three options that exist for dealing with the federal rule and companion Program Standards. The ACA will reconvene on January 14, 2014 to discuss these and other matters affecting the industry.

The options are as a follows:
a)    Accept the federal rule as it is and work to open it up and make changes, which is a minimum two-three year process.  This would also include accepting the Chronic Wasting Disease Program Standards as they are published at the end of the ninety day comment period.  
b)    To respectively request the withdrawal of the federal program (this includes rule and standards), which would then allow states to handle programs like they did prior to 2012.
c)    Challenge the federal rule in court. (There have been several issues and requirements that could be legally challenged)

Advantages and disadvantages of the federal rule were discussed last night during the meeting. The advantages of having the federal rule are, but certainly not limited to, the following:
•    The possibility of indemnity if Congress appropriates the funds (doubtful in this economic climate). The ACA does note there are currently no funds for indemnity available.
•    The federal rule also has provided the ability of deer producers to transit through closed states; however the proposed Version 23 of the standards does recommend producers contact every state prior to traveling through when transporting deer and elk.
•    A federal rule could allow for trade agreements between the US and other countries that have not allowed trade until a federal program was fully in place. However, we have seen the rule make trade between the US and Canadian producer more difficult and it has actually prohibited a significant portion of Canadian elk producers from exporting to the US .

Disadvantages of having the rule that were discussed are as follows:
•    The federal rule is places an extra burden of government regulations on producers beyond the state level, that otherwise would not be there.
•    The federal rule prohibits state agencies from using reasonable approaches when dealing with Chronic Wasting Disease  (as in Wisconsin where the federal rule has tied the hands of its state vet)
•    The only uniformity the federal rule accomplishes is setting minimum requirements for interstate commerce. It does not prohibit states from being more restrictive with their regulations or closing their borders. (the Program Standards actually suggests more stringent requirements).
•    The federal rule prohibits states from working together to provide further relief or reform. If conditions warrant a relaxation of regulation in the future, the rule would make that difficult to accomplish.
•    CWD sampling ages are increased from 16 months to 12 months.
•    Mandates physical whole herd inventories every 3 years.
•    Having a federal rule means the industry must accept the 65 page Program Standards, which after a year of negotiations and changes, still mentions double fencing, ten foot fencing, removal of 4” top soil requirements, transit notification, and sale barn disinfectant and comingling.
•    Even though scientific research shows cervids are clinical within three years for Chronic Wasting Disease, the federal rule and standards force states to implement five year intervals for trace-outs and respective quarantines.

The federal rule exempts wildlife agencies from having to adhere to the same protocol as cervid breeders and allows them to engage in the interstate movement of wild, susceptible species that are from areas and herds of low risk.  Meanwhile, wildlife agency officials assist in drafting the federal Chronic Wasting Disease policies.  


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