USDA Proposed Rule Would Allow Horses From QATAR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to declare Qatar, a small country on the Persian Gulf, free of African horse sickness. This change in disease status would relieve import restrictions on horses from Qatar.

"This action would make the importation of horses from Qatar less expensive and more practical, without endangering the health of our own horse population," said Joan M. Arnoldi, deputy administrator for veterinary services with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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.

This proposed action is based on information received from Qatar's animal health authorities and is in accordance with standards set by the International Office of Epizootics 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 this proposed rule is scheduled for publication in the May 12 Federal Register.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before July 13. An original and three copies of comments should be sent to Docket No. 97-131-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, USDA, Suite 3C03, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1238.

Comments may be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141 South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. Persons wishing access to this room are requested to call ahead at 202/690-2817 to facilitate entry into the comment reading room.

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