WASHINGTON – USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that it is reopening the comment period on the proposed rule to amend the regulations regarding the importation of animals and animal products from countries that have had isolated cases of BSE. The proposed rule would include Canada in a category of regions that present a minimal risk.

The proposed rule was first issued on Oct. 31, 2003, before the report of a BSE cow in Washington State and implementation of the several amelioration measures announced on Dec. 30, 2003. The initial comment period closed Jan. 5, 2004.

In the rule, APHIS proposed to allow the importation of certain low-risk live ruminants and ruminant products and byproducts from minimal risk regions under certain conditions. This action will allow interested persons additional time to prepare and submit comments. Additionally, this notice requests comments on whether to allow the importation from BSE minimal risk regions of beef from cattle 30 months of age or older in which the specified risk materials has been removed.

Also, APHIS has prepared an explanatory note that discusses the detection of BSE in an imported Canadian cow in Washington state and its effect on the risk analysis that was conducted for the proposed rule. Both the original analysis and the explanatory note may be viewed on the APHIS Web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/bse/bse.html.

Notice of the extension is scheduled for publication in the March 8, Federal Register. APHIS documents published in the Federal Register and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before April 7.Comments may be submitted by postal mail, commercial delivery or e-mail. Send an original and three copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. 03-080-2, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20730-1238. If you use e-mail, address your comments to regulations@aphis.usda.gov. Comments must be contained in the body of the message; do not send attached files. Please include your name and address in the message and use "Docket No. 03-080-2 on the subject line.

Comments may be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. Persons wishing to review comments are requested to call ahead on (202) 690-2817 to facilitate entry into the comment reading room.

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