USDA removes import restrictions for certain European Union countries

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WASHINGTON – The USDA is removing the March 13, 2001, import restrictions placed on certain European Union countries, following the completion of a scientific risk assessment performed by the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service.

The restrictions are being lifted for the following EU countries where no cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been reported in recognition that foot-and-mouth disease has not spread to certain EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Import restrictions will remain in effect for the following countries: United Kingdom, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Greece, where there have been confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth disease in recent months. The status of these countries continues to be evaluated and requires further risk analysis, evaluation, and site visits.

Still cautious.

Although USDA has lifted import restrictions for certain EU Member States that are unaffected by the current foot-and-mouth disease situation, stringent measures continue to be taken to reduce the risk of foot-and-mouth disease entering the United States.

These stringent measures include prohibiting shipments of products from high risk countries; increasing personnel at ports of entry; tightening regulatory enforcement; increased surveillance of incoming passengers and cargo; enhanced monitoring and surveillance of domestic livestock; strengthening federal, state and industry coordination; implementing public education campaigns; and dispatching experts to the United Kingdom to assist in containment efforts.

Expanding reign.

USDA will continue its efforts to increase personnel at ports of entry and tighten regulatory enforcement. Earlier this year, Secretary Ann Veneman authorized $32 million for the hiring of 350 new inspection personnel and the doubling of USDA’s canine inspection teams. This is in addition to nearly 400 inspectors already being hired during 2001 and another 200 being reassigned from other APHIS program areas.

USDA will also continue reviewing current programs and work in coordination with other federal, state and industry representatives, to ensure all is being done possible to prevent foot-and-mouth disease from entering the United States and make sure necessary resources are available should there ever be an emergency.

The lifting of restrictions associated with foot-and-mouth disease does not alter other restrictions already in place on ruminants and ruminant products to prevent the introduction of bovine spongiform encephalopathy into this country.

In the U.S. Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious and economically devastating disease of ruminants and swine. The United States has been free of foot-and-mouth disease since 1929. Foot-and-mouth disease is one of the animal diseases that livestock owners dread most because it spreads widely and rapidly and because it has grave economic consequences. Humans are not susceptible to the disease.

Current information on foot-and-mouth disease and traveler questions and answers are available on the Internet at www.usda.gov.

Other information: www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/fmd

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