The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is starting to implement a new system for electronic certificates of veterinary inspection, also known as animal health certificates.
The new system is part of the Veterinary Services Process Streamlining program, which will provide a single site for Web access to electronic documents dealing with the movement of animals. One of the documents is the certificate of veterinary inspection, necessary for the interstate and international movement of animals and animal products.
The VSPS eInterstate module will allow accredited veterinarians to fill out a certificate of veterinary inspection online and attach diagnostic test results. The module will then send the certificate electronically to the importing state's veterinary authorities before any animals or animal products move—and create a copy for original signatures to accompany the animals or animal products.
The VSPS eInterstate module will also offer Web access to state regulations and real-time summary reports.
"For the accredited veterinarian, the eInterstate module of VSPS streamlines the process for complying with USDA-APHIS regulations as well as individual state regulations regarding interstate movement of livestock," said Dr. Larry A. White, regional import/export coordinator at the Western Regional Office of USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services.
Dr. Lyle P. Vogel, director of the AVMA Scientific Activities Division, said the module's advantages include round-the-clock access and rapid distribution of documents.
The eInterstate module includes features to incorporate the identification numbers for animals and premises that are evolving as part of a future National Animal Identification System. The module could contribute to a 48-hour traceback capability and interface with entities such as the new National Animal Health Laboratory Network.
Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, and Wisconsin are participating in the first phase of implementation, while APHIS will progressively add the rest of the states.
The VSPS program features an eVAP module, too, allowing veterinarians to apply online for accreditation with the National Veterinary Accreditation Program or to update their information. The USDA deployed the eVAP module last year for internal APHIS Veterinary Services use—and will make the module available to accredited veterinarians this year as APHIS implements the eInterstate module.
Also in the works at APHIS is a proposal to restructure the accreditation program with two tiers, authorizing veterinarians to issue documents for companion animals only or for companion and food animals. Under the rule, accredited veterinarians would need to meet educational requirements every three years. As of late January, the proposed rule was awaiting review in the Office of General Counsel.