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USDA APHIS Stakeholders - Alternatives to Rulemaking



Dear Stakeholders:
 
As we pursue our animal and plant health and animal welfare mission, APHIS is traditionally described as a regulatory agency. And while our role will always involve some level of regulatory action, we’ve learned over the years that regulations are not the only way – and often not the best way – to accomplish our mission. We’ve heard this from our stakeholders, from Congress, from our own employees, and even the President, who issued Executive Order 13563, which says the Federal Government's regulatory system must identify and use the best, most innovative and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends.
 
We hear you and we’re working to improve. Non-regulatory options are not new to us, but we are committed to moving forward considering the full range of options and using the right tool for job, whether regulatory or non-regulatory.
 
We want to be more flexible and more responsive and we want to choose options that allow for stakeholder collaboration and buy-in. Using more non-regulatory options give us the opportunity to quickly alter our approaches as needed, for example as scientific understanding of a problem grows, as industry practices evolve, or as your needs change.
 
This year, we established a project to more fully explore alternates to rulemaking, and to help prepare our agency to succeed in reaching this goal. As part of this program, APHIS will:
• Systematically consider non-regulatory options to address new, emerging or changing issues;
• Continue to pursue overarching or performance-based regulations when possible; and
• Consider flexibilities within existing regulations.
 
We will be engaging stakeholders and our employees early in the process so we can benefit from their perspectives. We want to identify and use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools to achieve our agency’s mission.
 
We’re currently working through a series of pilot tests to test the efficacy of the systematic process we’ve set up to consider non-regulatory options for emerging issues, as well as to systematically consider how we can more productively or flexibly use our existing regulations. These pilot projects have originated from many sources, both within and outside of APHIS, as we look for common-sense solutions to protect animal and plant health and promote animal welfare.   Some of our pilot projects include:
• Issuing a general permit for imports of EPA-registered microbial biopesticides, effective September 17, 2014. These low-risk organisms are regulated by EPA.
• Examining if we can exempt processed citrus peel from import restrictions on citrus products.
• Issuing a general permit for Tribal imports of small numbers of ash logs from Canada to be used in basket making.
 
There’s still a lot of work left to fully implement our non-regulatory options initiative. But we firmly believe this is the right path forward. Alternates to rulemaking that are based on risk assessments and sound science can result in more timely and flexible actions, deeper and more substantive collaboration with our partners and stakeholders, and lower costs overall, while continuing to further APHIS’ mission to you and to the American public.
 
Sincerely,
 
Kevin Shea
APHIS Administrator

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