USDA authorizes funding for scrapie eradication

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Scrapie costs the US sheep industry $20 million per year in direct losses, and millions of dollars more in lost potential markets and flock productivity. The USDA-APHIS has determined it is necessary, therefore, to accelerate the eradication of scrapie from the United States. APHIS estimates the plan will cost $100 million over seven years. A notice was printed in the March 17 Federal Register declaring the disease an emergency and pressing problem that must be eradicated.

APHIS resources are insufficient, however, to carry out this accelerated scrapie eradication program, which requires $10 million for FY 2000.

Effective Feb 1, 2000, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman authorized the transfer and use of funds as necessary from appropriations or other monies available to the USDA, to conduct an accelerated scrapie eradication program.

The $10 million includes $3.6 million for diagnostic support; $2.6 million for animal identification and regulatory enforcement; $1.2 million to indemnify owners of animals found through surveillance to be at risk, to be suspect, or to test positive (although no regulations currently exist to provide for the payment of indemnity for sheep and goats, APHIS expects to have such regulations in effect this year); $1 million for slaughter surveillance activities; $625,000 for the purchase of animals for diagnostic purposes; $692,000 for activities such as necropsy, disposal of carcasses, coordination, and training; and $250,000 to update the generic database for scrapie and for data analysis at APHIS' Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health.

Scrapie-free countries have a competitive advantage over US sheep producers, because countries that import sheep demand that they come from scrapie-free regions. As a result, US producers are finding themselves locked out of the international market, a situation that has taken a serious financial toll on the domestic sheep industry.