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APHIS To Reduce Backlog And Streamline Enforcement

Copyright 2012

By Jeffrey Howard

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) held an industry stakeholder call to announce improvements to their investigation and enforcement streamlining efforts.  APHIS pointed out on the call conducted by Dr. Kay Carter-Corker that over 2,000 open investigations are on the books of APHIS as of the end of 2011.  Dr. Chester Gipson was unable to participate on the call due to illness.

Dr. Carter-Corker pointed to two areas of focus, first was to reduce the number of cases in backlog and secondly to reduce the time it takes to investigate.  APHIS created a task force to address the backlog and is identifying the most critical cases to pursue.  Dr. Carter-Corker pointed out that factors such as the cases significance to overall animal health, APHIS ability to successfully complete the investigation, the seriousness of the violation, age of the violation and whether the violator is a previous offender would be taken into account.  For those they choose not to pursue letters of warning will be sent and the investigations will be closed.

On average APHIS requires 600 days to conduct an investigation and come to a resolution.  If the case is then turned over the Office of Inspector General they can take much longer than that.  The goal of APHIS is to reduce the average time to 355 days.  In order to do so Dr. Carter-Corker pointed to creating templates for communication, pursuing cases with the most and best evidence and taking a more national approach to the investigations.

In closing Dr. Carter-Corker informed the participants that APHIS mission was to target those that pose the greatest risk to animal welfare.  During questions, APHIS pointed out that approximately 800 of the 2,000 open cases dealt with animal welfare and 1/3rd of those dealt with the Tennessee Walking Horses and related breeds.

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