USDA Extends Comment Period On Proposed Rule To Allow Horses From Qatar

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reopening and extending the comment period for a proposed rule that would declare Qatar, a small country on the Persian Gulf, free of African horse sickness. This change in disease status would relieve restrictions on importation of horses into the United States from Qatar.

The proposed rule was published in the May 12, 1998, Federal Register and comments were required to be received on or before July 13, 1998.

"We feel it is important to provide interested groups and individuals with additional time to prepare comments on the proposed rule," said Alfonso Torres, deputy administrator for veterinary services with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a part of USDA's marketing and regulatory programs mission area.

Current APHIS regulations require that horses being imported from regions considered to be affected with African horse sickness, a fatal equine viral disease, enter the United States only at the port of New York and be quarantined at the New York Animal Import Center in Newburgh, N.Y., for at least 60 days.

The proposed rule would allow horses from Qatar to be shipped to and quarantined at ports other than New York and would reduce the quarantine period to an average of three days to meet APHIS quarantine and testing requirements.

The action in the proposed rule is based on information received from Qatar's animal health authorities and is in accordance with standards set by the Office International des Epizooties for recognizing a country as free of African horse sickness. Qatar has not recorded a case of African horse sickness in over 30 years.

Notice of reopening and extending the comment period is scheduled for publication in the Jan. 14 Federal Register. APHIS documents published in the Federal Register, and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS rules, are available on the Internet at

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