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Rule

Poultry Products From Mexico Transiting the United States

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are amending the regulations for importing poultry products to allow poultry carcasses, parts, and products (except eggs and egg products) that are not eligible for entry into the United States to move through the United States via land ports from Mexican States that Mexico considers to be free of exotic Newcastle disease (END), under certain conditions, for export to another country. We believe such in-transit movements present a negligible risk of introducing END into the United States. This action relieves restrictions on trade while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of END into the United States.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

September 20, 2000.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dr. Michael David, Senior Staff Veterinarian, Animals Program, National Center for Import and Export, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 39, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 734-8364.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The regulations in 9 CFR part 94 prohibit or restrict the importation of certain animals and animal products into the United States to prevent the introduction of certain animal diseases. The regulations in § 94.6 govern, among other things, the importation of poultry carcasses, parts, products, and eggs (other than hatching eggs) from regions where exotic Newcastle disease (END) or Salmonella enteritidis, phage-type 4, is considered to exist. Because END exists in certain parts of Mexico, Mexico is characterized, under § 94.6(a), as a region where END is considered to exist. Further, under the regulations in § 94.6(b), Mexico is also characterized as a region where S. enteritidis, phage-type 4, is considered to exist.

Poultry carcasses and parts and products of poultry carcasses from most parts of Mexico may be imported into the United States only in accordance with § 94.6. Section 94.6 requires the carcasses or parts and products to be cooked prior to importation or to be consigned directly to an approved establishment in the United States. Under the regulations in § 94.22, poultry meat and other poultry products from the Mexican States of Sinaloa and Sonora may be imported into the United States under less restrictive conditions because these States are considered low risk for END. Section 94.6 provides that poultry eggs (other than hatching eggs) from Mexico may be imported into the United States only if: (1) They are Start Printed Page 50604accompanied by a health certificate regarding the flock of origin and meet certain other conditions; (2) they are consigned directly to an approved establishment for breaking and pasteurization; (3) they are imported under permit for scientific, educational, or research purposes; or (4) they are imported under permit and have been cooked or processed or will be handled in a manner that prevents the introduction of END and S. enteritidis into the United States.

Further, poultry carcasses, parts, products, and eggs (other than hatching eggs) that do not qualify for entry into the United States under one of these conditions may transit the United States via air and sea ports under the conditions contained in § 94.15(d).

On February 8, 2000, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register (65 FR 6040-6044, Docket No. 98-094-1) a proposed rule to allow poultry carcasses, parts, and products (except eggs and egg products) that are not eligible for entry into the United States to move through the United States via land ports from Mexican States that Mexico considers to be free of END, under certain conditions, for export to another country.

We solicited comments concerning our proposal for 60 days ending April 10, 2000. We received one comment by that date. The comment was from a representative of a foreign government.

The commenter supported the rule, but requested that we clarify whether the refrigerated containers used to transport frozen or chilled poultry can have a tube that allows water or condensation to escape during transit.

Our proposed rule specifies that for poultry to be eligible to transit the United States, it must, among other things, be packaged in leakproof containers. We are requiring the use of leakproof containers to ensure that liquid that may have come in contact with poultry inside the container cannot escape outside the container. However, condensation or water that is produced by a refrigeration unit that is attached to the container carrying poultry is allowed to drain outside the container since such condensation or water would not have come in contact with the poultry inside the container.

The commenter also requested that we develop a procedure to allow additions to the list of Mexican States eligible to transit poultry through the United States without having to go through rulemaking each time. The commenter stated that such a procedure would speed up the response time to requests by Mexico to relieve restrictions.

APHIS makes every effort to respond promptly to requests made by foreign governments to relieve restrictions; however, APHIS must do so in accordance with applicable laws and executive orders, including the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 551 et seq.) and Executive Order 12866, among others.

Changes to the Proposed Rule

In our proposed rule, we listed the States of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo Leon, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Yucatan, Mexico, as States that Mexico considered to be free of END. However, since the publication of our proposed rule, an outbreak of END has occurred in the Lagunera region of the States of Coahuila and Durango. Because of the recent outbreak of END in Coahuila and Durango, we are not including those States in the list of States eligible to transit poultry through the United States under this final rule.

Therefore, for the reasons given in the proposed rule and in this document, we are adopting the proposed rule as a final rule, with the changes discussed in this document.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12866. The rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866 and, therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

Currently, the regulations in 9 CFR part 94 prohibit or restrict the importation of certain animals or animal products into the United States to prevent the introduction of certain animal diseases. Under the regulations, poultry carcasses, parts, and products from Mexico must meet the requirements of § 94.6 or § 94.22 to be imported into the United States because exotic Newcastle disease (END) is considered to exist in certain areas in Mexico.

In this document, we are amending the regulations in part 94 to allow poultry carcasses, parts, and products (except eggs and egg products) that are not eligible for entry into the United States under § 94.6 or § 94.22 to move via land ports through the United States from 10 Mexican States, under certain conditions, for export to another country. These 10 States have been officially declared by the Government of Mexico to be free of END.

An APHIS review of the END situation in those States has revealed that, if proper risk management techniques continue to be applied in Mexico, and if accidents and exposure are minimized by proper handling during transport, there will be a negligible risk that END could be disseminated into the United States as a result of this rulemaking.

This rule will have no direct effect on U.S. producers and consumers of poultry because Mexican poultry would only transit the United States en route to other countries and would not enter U.S. marketing channels. Neither the quantity or price of poultry traded in U.S. domestic markets nor U.S. consumer or producer surplus will be affected by this rule.

A benefit of allowing Mexican poultry to transit the United States for export is that U.S. companies will ship the poultry from U.S. receiving centers in the border States of California, Arizona, and Texas to export points. Current Department of Transportation regulations restrict trucks from Mexico from proceeding into the United States due to safety restrictions. However, any economic activity that could result from this rule is dependent on the volume of poultry shipped from Mexico for export to other countries. Given Mexico's low volume of poultry and poultry product exports, few shipments of poultry are likely to transit the United States to other countries under this rule, and benefits to U.S. carriers and shippers are likely to be very small.

Potential losses from disease outbreaks are not quantified because APHIS judges the likelihood of outbreaks (which could result from a combination of factors such as the presence of the disease in Mexico, failure of the preclearance program, accidental openings while in transit, or exposure after an accidental opening of a shipment) to be negligible.

Mexican Poultry Production and Exports

Since 1990, poultry meat production in Mexico has grown 5 percent annually to reach 1.7 million metric tons in 1998. However, nearly all of the poultry meat produced in Mexico is consumed domestically. For example, in 1997, Mexico produced 1.5 million metric tons of poultry, but exported only 5,000 metric tons of that total. Therefore, we anticipate that the volume of poultry that will transit the United States under this rule will be very small.

Effects on Small Trucking Companies

This rule could directly affect U.S. trucking companies operating in the Start Printed Page 50605border States of California, Arizona, and Texas. Small Business Administration (SBA) data show that there are approximately 18,000 trucking companies operating in those States, and over 96 percent of those companies are small entities. However, it is unclear how many of those companies will be affected by this rule.

Prior to the effective date of this rule, freight arriving in the Customs territory of the United States by truck from Mexico had to be delivered to customers within the commercial zone of the U.S. cities along the border or else transferred to a U.S. trucking or other shipping company within that zone. U.S. trucking companies could benefit from transporting Mexican poultry from U.S. land border ports to U.S. maritime ports. However, given the anticipated low volume of Mexican exports, this rule will likely not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small trucking companies.

Effects on Small Railroad Companies

This rule could also affect four U.S. railroad companies that currently transport goods across the U.S.-Mexico border. Two of these railroad companies meet SBA criteria for small entities (fewer than 1,500 employees). Any economic effects on railroad companies, whether small or large, would likely be positive, but such effects are anticipated to be insignificant, given the expected small volume of Mexican exports.

Effects on U.S. Poultry Exporters

This rule could also affect U.S. poultry exporters. Historical data on shipments of Mexican poultry suggest that the poultry would be shipped to either Japan or the Middle East; but, once again, given the anticipated low volume of Mexican exports, U.S. companies that export poultry and poultry products to these two regions are unlikely to be significantly affected.

Trade Relations

This rule removes some restrictions on the movement of poultry carcasses, parts, or products (except eggs and egg products) from certain States in Mexico and attempts to encourage a positive trading environment between the United States and Mexico by stimulating economic activity and providing export opportunities to Mexican poultry industries.

Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Executive Order 12988

This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule: (1) Preempts all State and local laws and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule; (2) has no retroactive effect; and (3) does not require administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court challenging this rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), the information collection or recordkeeping requirements included in this rule have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB control number 0579-0145.

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List of Subjects in 9 CFR Part 94

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Accordingly, we are amending

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PART 94—RINDERPEST, FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE, FOWL PEST (FOWL PLAGUE), VELOGENIC VISCEROTROPIC NEWCASTLE DISEASE, AFRICAN SWINE FEVER, HOG CHOLERA, AND BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY: PROHIBITED AND RESTRICTED IMPORTATIONS

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1. The authority citation for part 94 is revised to read as follows:

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Authority: Title IV, Pub. L. 106-224, 114 Stat. 438, 7 U.S.C. 7701-7772; 7 U.S.C. 450; 19 U.S.C. 1306; 21 U.S.C. 111, 114a, 134a, 134b, 134c, 134f, 136, and 136a; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 42 U.S.C. 4331 and 4332; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.4.

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2. Section 94.15 is amended as follows:

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a. Paragraphs (c) and (d) are redesignated as paragraphs (d) and (e), respectively.

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b. A new paragraph (c) is added.

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c. The statement in parentheses at the end of the section, concerning approval by the Office of Management and Budget, is revised.

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Animal products and materials; movement and handling.
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(c) Poultry carcasses, parts, or products (except eggs and egg products) from Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, or Yucatan, Mexico, that are not eligible for entry into the United States in accordance with the regulations in this part may transit the United States via land ports for immediate export if the following conditions are met:

(1) The person desiring to move the poultry carcasses, parts, or products through the United States obtains a United States Veterinary Permit for Importation and Transportation of Controlled Materials and Organisms and Vectors (VS Form 16-6). An application for the permit may be obtained from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services, National Center for Import-Export, 4700 River Road Unit 38, Riverdale, Maryland 20737-1231.

(2) The poultry carcasses, parts, or products are packaged at a Tipo Inspeccioón Federal plant in Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, or Yucatan, Mexico, in leakproof containers with serially numbered seals of the Government of Mexico, and the containers remain sealed during the entire time they are in transit across Mexico and the United States.

(3) The person moving the poultry carcasses, parts, or products through the United States notifies, in writing, the Plant Protection and Quarantine Officer at the U.S. port of arrival prior to such transiting. The notification must include the following information regarding the poultry to transit the United States:

(i) Permit number;

(ii) Times and dates of arrival in the United States;

(iii) Time schedule and route to be followed through the United States; and

(iv) Serial numbers of the seals on the containers.

(4) The poultry carcasses, parts, or products transit the United States under U.S. Customs bond and are exported from the United States within the time limit specified on the permit. Any poultry carcasses, parts, or products that have not been exported within the time limit specified on the permit or that have not transited in accordance with the permit or applicable requirements of this part will be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the Administrator may direct pursuant to section 2 of the Act of February 2, 1903, as amended (21 U.S.C. 111).

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(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control numbers 0579-0040 and 0579-0145)

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Done in Washington, DC, this 15th day of August 2000.

Bobby R. Acord,

Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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[FR Doc. 00-21171 Filed 8-18-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-34-U