Texas Register Preamble

The Texas Animal Health Commission (Commission) proposes to amend §54.9, concerning Live Bird Marketing System, in order to address two concerns affecting disease response.

The Fowl Registration Program was created to register domestic and exotic fowl sellers, distributors, or transporters who do not participate in disease surveillance programs recognized by the Commission. The primary purpose of the program is to ensure that the various types of fowl being sold or transported throughout this state do not pose a disease risk which could devastate the various Texas fowl industries. Over the years Texas has experienced problems with a variety of diseases which can be carried by the various types of fowl, some of which are not clinically affected by the disease.

The rule is being amended to put in place requirements focused on two concerns: disease exposure issues at live bird markets and their production systems and distributors. A live bird market (LBM) is any facility that gathers live domestic fowl to be slaughtered and/or sold onsite. These fowl may share a communal water supply with migratory fowl which may be a potential disease source. As such the rule is being amended to add that an improved biosecurity, sanitation, and disease control plan include prohibiting migratory fowl from being able to access any water supply shared with the on-site fowl. It is important that all participating facilities understand that biosecurity protocols include this important element for preventing the spread of disease and for protecting animal health in this state.

Live bird facilities that test positive for any fowl disease reportable to the Commission will have all fowl associated with the facility to be quarantined, until all the fowl have been handled in accordance our requirements. Then the facilities will undergo cleaning, disinfection and retesting, before they can open for business. Because it is critical that new fowl are not introduced or exposed to infected fowl the Commission is amending the rule to require that additional fowl are prohibited from being added to the quarantined fowl or facility unless authorized by the Commission. These amendments are for §54.9(c) which contains biosecurity requirements for Live Bird Markets, Live Bird Production Units, and Live Bird Market Distributors and §54.9(f) which contains requirements for any LBMS where fowl are positive for a disease reportable to the Commission under Chapter 45 of this title. Subsection (f)(2) is being rewritten in order to provide clearer direction to those who have a quarantined flock. The new language basically provides that all infected flocks will be placed under quarantine, the fowl depopulated, and the facility cleaned and disinfected unless an alternate approach to disease elimination is approved by the Commission. No new fowl may be added to the quarantined flock unless approved by the Commission. A flock plan shall be developed between the flock owner and the Commission addressing the length of time the facility is to remain vacant of fowl, the testing schedule following repopulation, and other details germane to the management of the flock and elimination of disease.


Dr. Matt Cochran, D.V.M, Assistant Executive Director of Administration and Finance, Texas Animal Health Commission, has determined for the first five-year period the rule is in effect, there will be no additional fiscal implications for state or local government as a result of enforcing or administering the rule. Currently, there are only eleven (11) identified live bird markets in the state and they are already registered under the current registration program. Implementation of this rule poses no significant fiscal impact on small or micro-businesses. There are no anticipated costs to persons who are required to comply with the rule as proposed.


Dr. Cochran has also determined that for each year of the first five (5) years the rule is in effect, the public benefit anticipated is that the requirement of Live Bird Markets to participate in this program will provide the Commission increased surveillance for a serious disease risk which is more protective for the various fowl industries and the general public.


In accordance with Texas Government Code §2001.022, this agency has determined that the proposed rule will not impact local economies and, therefore, did not file a request for a local employment impact statement with the Texas Workforce Commission.


The agency has determined that the proposed governmental action will not affect private real property, and is, therefore, compliant with the Private Real Property Preservation Act in Government Code, Chapter 2007.


Comments regarding the proposed amendment may be submitted to Dolores Holubec, Texas Animal Health Commission, 2105 Kramer Lane, Austin, Texas 78758, by fax at (512) 719-0721 or by e-mail at "comments@tahc.state.tx.us."


The amendment is proposed under the following statutory authority as found in Chapter 161 of the Texas Agriculture Code. House Bill 2328 adds to Chapter 161, §161.0411, which authorizes the Commission to register domestic and exotic fowl sellers, distributors, or transporters who do not participate in disease surveillance programs recognized by the Commission. The commission is vested by statute, §161.041(a), with the requirement to protect all livestock, domestic animals, and domestic fowl from disease. The Commission is authorized, by §161.041(b), to act to eradicate or control any disease or agent of transmission for any disease that affects livestock. If the Commission determines that a disease listed in §161.041 of this code or an agent of transmission of one of those diseases exists in a place in this state among livestock, or that livestock are exposed to one of those diseases or an agent of transmission of one of those diseases, the Commission shall establish a quarantine on the affected animals or on the affected place. That is found in §161.061.

As a control measure, the Commission by rule may regulate the movement of animals. The Commission may restrict the intrastate movement of animals even though the movement of the animals is unrestricted in interstate or international commerce. The Commission may require testing, vaccination, or another epidemiologically sound procedure before or after animals are moved. That is found in §161.054. That authority is found in §161.048. A person is presumed to control the animal if the person is the owner or lessee of the pen, pasture, or other place in which the animal is located and has control of that place; or exercises care or control over the animal. That is under §161.002.

Section 161.007 provides that if a veterinarian employed by the Commission determines that a communicable disease exists among livestock, domestic animals, or domestic fowl or on certain premises or that livestock, domestic animals, or domestic fowl have been exposed to the agency of transmission of a communicable disease, the exposure or infection is considered to continue until the Commission determines that the exposure or infection has been eradicated through methods prescribed by rule of the Commission. Section 161.005 provides that the Commission may authorize the executive director or another employee to sign written instruments on behalf of the Commission. A written instrument, including a quarantine or written notice, signed under that authority has the same force and effect as if signed by the entire Commission.

Section 161.043 entitled "Regulation of Exhibitions" provides that the Commission may regulate the entry of livestock, domestic animals, and domestic fowl into exhibitions, shows, and fairs and may require treatment or certification of those animals as reasonably necessary to protect against communicable diseases. Section 161.049 entitled "Dealer Records" provides that the Commission may require a livestock, exotic livestock, domestic fowl, or exotic fowl dealer to maintain records of all livestock, exotic livestock, domestic fowl, or exotic fowl bought and sold by the dealer. Section 161.056 entitled "Identification of Exotic Animals" provides that the Commission may adopt rules to establish a standard method for identifying and tracking exotic livestock and exotic fowl. Section 161.081 entitled "Importation of Animals" provides that the Commission by rule may regulate the movement, including movement by a railroad company or other common carrier, of livestock, exotic livestock, domestic animals, domestic fowl, or exotic fowl into this state from another state, territory, or country as well as the commission by rule may provide the method for inspecting and testing animals before and after entry into this state. The Commission by rule may provide for the issuance and form of health certificates and entry permits. The rules may include standards for determining which veterinarians of this state, other states, and departments of the federal government are authorized to issue the certificates or permits. Section 161.148 entitled "Administrative Penalty" provides that the Commission may impose an administrative penalty against a person who violates a rule or order adopted under this chapter.

No other statutes, articles or codes are affected by the amendments.

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