After carefully considering feedback from the public, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is announcing that it will not establish new criteria for recognizing third-party inspection and certification programs when determining the Agency’s own inspection frequency under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
In December 2017, APHIS announced a series of public listening sessions as an opportunity for leadership to gather information about the concept of third-party inspections from stakeholders, State partners, and the public. Additionally, APHIS posted a Federal Register notice in January 2018 inviting written comments through March 21, 2018. APHIS received and considered over 35,500 written comments.
APHIS appreciates the input received from stakeholders and carefully considered it when making a final decision. In this case, APHIS found the vast majority of the comments we received to not be in favor of establishing new criteria for recognizing third party inspection and certification programs. Stakeholders on all sides of the issue expressed concern about APHIS’ ability to maintain responsibility for inspections and AWA compliance should third-party inspections be taken into account when determining APHIS inspection frequencies.
APHIS will continue to use its current risk-based inspection system to determine the frequency of inspections, and will continue to promote compliance with the AWA by conducting quality inspections, offering voluntary compliance support and learning opportunities, and taking enforcement action, as appropriate.