Semen Gains Entry

Effective Oct. 20, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) eliminated importation requirements for equine semen crossing the border from Canada. That decision has the horse industry delighted, and distraught. What is relief for some, easing the logistical headache of cross-border semen shipping, is a nightmare to those who see the potential for introduction of infectious disease.

The rule follows a proposal for this action that was published in the USDA's Federal Register on Jan. 26, soliciting comments concerning the topic for 60 days ending March 27. (See “Consequences” in the April issue of The Horse, page 7.) Eight comments were received from representatives of industry and a university. Five supported the rule in its entirety, and three expressed concerns about provisions of the rule regarding disease screening.

“We believe these changes are warranted because canine semen and equine semen from Canada pose no threat of introducing diseases to U.S. livestock,” said APHIS in the Federal Register of Sept. 20. (The ruling also removed importation requirements for all canine semen from anywhere in the world.) It continued, “This action will reduce regulatory requirements for the importation of semen, while continuing to protect the health of U.S. livestock. We are also requiring that other animal semen be imported only in shipping containers that bear the official government seal of the national veterinary service of the region of origin.”

Jos Mottershead is President of the Canadian Sport Horse Association in Okotoks, Alberta. He said, “USDA-APHIS has finally come to a successful conclusion for parties both sides of the Border.”

For breeders, the ruling undoubtedly will promote economic development. Previously, breeders were restricted by regulations that made the timely arrival of cooled semen shipments impractical, expensive, and decidedly frustrating. Semen now can fly from Canada by “counter-to-counter” airline shipment without having to pass through a designated USDA-APHIS Port of Entry for semen.

Two years ago the Canadian Food Inspection Agency removed restrictions on equine semen import from the United States.

“In my opinion, the apparent reduction of USDA-APHIS health controls as a result of this change is only perceived, and not actual, as any reproductive equine diseases are either currently found within both countries, or in fact are not present in Canada at all,” said Mottershead. “In this respect, therefore, the changes should be no cause for concern to U.S. breeders.”

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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