Written by: Mallory Gaines | May 11, 2023
Last year, I wrote about the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Veterinary Services Form 16-4 (VS 16-4) and how if it was not updated, it could hinder exports for animal-based products in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak on U.S. soil. We recently celebrated APHIS’s progress on updating this form, and are now turning our attention to going country-by-country, product-by-product to remove any diseases not relevant to those products.
As a refresher, in the letterhead of the form, the VS 16-4 lists several animal diseases, including African swine fever (ASF), that the U.S. is free from. If the U.S. was no longer free from those listed diseases, the problem was that the entire form would become invalid and even if the foreign animal disease was something like ASF, a poultry product, for example, unrelated to the disease, would not be able to be exported.
The AFIA has been working to change the form, to proactively support exports of animal-based products in the event of a foreign animal disease. With collaboration from other associations, the AFIA has been successful and APHIS has updated the VS 16-4 form! Although the change made is subtle, it will be effective. APHIS moved the disease statements from the letterhead of the form to the “additional declarations” section below.
This move allows APHIS to adjust the form as needed in real-time. Meaning, if the U.S. has an outbreak of one of the listed foreign animal diseases, APHIS will not need to go through the long and arduous process within the Office of Management and Budget to change the form; it can strike through an irrelevant disease for a specific product and trade can continue.
AFIA members who utilize the VS 16-4 for exports need to use the NEW FORM. After June 4, APHIS will only endorse the new form, so exporters should update their records and ensure the VS 16-4 form being used has the disease statements in the additional declarations section and not above in the letterhead.
Work on this issue is not over. The AFIA is working with APHIS to go country-by-country, product-by-product to remove any diseases not relevant to those products. As APHIS negotiates new health certificate agreements, they too are prioritizing the inclusion of only those diseases that affect the given products. In the event of an outbreak, this will further promote trade and not result in APHIS scrambling to update forms while a crisis is ensuing. These changes are about looking ahead, being proactive and prepared. The AFIA is pleased to partner with APHIS in this endeavor.
Exporters of animal-based products: I highly encourage you to check out APHIS’s International Regulations for Animal Product Exports (IRegs) for the specific country and product you intend to export to ensure you are utilizing the correct form. Stay up to date on this issue by joining AFIA’s Trade Member Interest Group (MIG), reading FeedGram and keeping up with my blogs.