The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has finalized a 2012 interim rule that established a voluntary herd certification program (HCP) to control the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in farmed cervids.
 
The CWD interim final rule has been in effect since August 13, 2012 and the final rule, which was published in today’s Federal Register, makes only minor changes based on public comments.
 
The role of APHIS’ voluntary herd certification program is to assist States, Tribes and the cervid industry in minimizing the introduction, transmission and spread of CWD in farmed cervid populations. Since APHIS began accepting applications for its national CWD herd certification program in April 2012, a total of 29 States with farmed cervid populations have joined the voluntary program and adopted consistent herd certification requirements.

The CWD final rule supports the domestic and international marketability of U.S. cervids and protects both farmed and wild cervid populations by including interstate movement and testing requirements along with other safeguards to minimize the spread of CWD. The rule requires a full five years of continuous mortality testing with no evidence of CWD before herd owners can achieve certified status and be eligible to move their animals interstate.

In addition, farmed cervid herd owners are required to have fencing in place, individual animal identification tags, and conduct regular animal inventories. All animals over 12 months of age that die for any reason must also be tested for CWD. Over time, participation in the national CWD herd certification program should further reduce the incidence of disease in farmed cervid populations.

APHIS’ CWD Program Standards offer optional guidance to facilitate compliance with the CWD final rule requirements. Revised program standards were published in the Federal Register in December 2013, and APHIS accepted comments through March 31, 2014. The comments are currently under review and we expect to post the updated program standards to the APHIS Web site in May.  

Click here for more information about CWD and APHIS’ voluntary herd certification program.