Thursday, May 9, 2013

Revisions to Scrapie Flock Certification Program

Effective June 3, 2013, USDA-APHIS is eliminating the Complete Monitored and Certified categories of the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (SFCP). Approximately 94 percent of current program participants are in the Complete Monitored category. Forty-four percent of enrolled flocks are certified scrapie-free.

Producers who are currently enrolled in the Complete Monitored or Certified categories will have the option  of converting to the (revised) Select or Export categories of the SFCP or withdrawing from the program. Both the Select and Export categories have more stringent sampling requirements than the Complete Monitored and Certified categories. Flock owners who wish to convert must notify their area APHIS office by October 31, 2013, in writing, if they wish to do so.

Only 1% of U.S. sheep are enrolled in the SFCP.

The Select category does not require an annual inspection, but a specified number of animals must be submitted for scrapie testing. The Select category does not provide a pathway to certification. There is no status date for a flock. In the Export category, an annual inspection is required and all clinical suspects and found dead animals must be submitted for testing. Certification is possible after 7 years of participation.

The Complete Monitored and Certified categories are being eliminated due to dwindling budgets. In the Federal Register, the following reasons were given as justification for eliminating the Complete Monitored and Certified categories of the SFCP:  1) Participating flocks represent only about 1 percent of sheep in the U.S.;  2) Participation in the SFCP has declined by about 25 percent since 2007;  3) The Complete Monitored category does not efficiently detect scrapie cases; and  4) More sheep producers are using genotyping to reduce their risk of scrapie.

According to USDA-APHIS, it makes more sense to spend limited resources on the components of the scrapie program which have had the most impact, which is slaughter surveillance.The goal of the National Scrapie Eradication Program is to eliminate scrapie by 2017 and document the absence of scrapie for the following 7 years, enabling the United States to eventually gain recognition as a scrapie-free country.

Source: SFCP 2013, An Overview of the Revised Program, USDA, APHIS. May 3, 2013.

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