USDA proposes new livestock indemnity network
On Sept. 6, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit public comments on a new approach to indemnity valuation and a new indemnity framework. This approach aims to standardize and provide greater consistency to the livestock indemnification process.
The ANPR describes two structural changes to the indemnity regulations. The first is the use of an annual indemnity value table to standardize the indemnification process and resolve discrepancies between disease programs. The current regulations for valuing animals for indemnification vary from species to species and, in some cases, from disease to disease within the same species. Under the new approach, APHIS would collaborate with other USDA agencies—including the Farm Service Agency’s Livestock Indemnity Program—to develop harmonized USDA indemnity values, along with the methodology to determine them. These values would be published online annually.
Second, the ANPR describes an approach to standardize allowances for appraisal when an indemnity value cannot be calculated using the tables or when a producer elects to appeal the indemnity value based on extraordinary circumstances surrounding the animals at issue. This approach would resolve known challenges with indemnification based on fair market appraisal by an appraiser.
One issue APHIS hopes to address is how to value lost animals in a rapidly spreading disease outbreak, like outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in 2014-2015 and again this year. Flocks where HPAI is confirmed are euthanized. In the case of commercial poultry flocks, this means fewer birds and table eggs are available to consumers, contributing to increasing prices.
To date in 2022, HPAI has been found in 435 flocks - 204 commercial flocks and 231 backyard flocks - affecting 49.9 million birds in 39 states. So far this year, no commercial poultry flocks have been affected in Georgia – but outside menagerie flocks in Toombs and Henry County did have a variety of poultry species test positive this summer. Major outbreaks last spring affected commercial poultry producers in Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. More recent outbreaks have been reported since late July in commercial flocks in California, Idaho, Minnesoota, Ohio and Utah.
The ANPR also outlines the potential consolidation of all APHIS indemnity regulations into a single section of the Code of Federal Regulations. This would harmonize how APHIS addresses value determination, compensation for cleaning and disposal, and other related issues across existing programs.
Through the ANPR, APHIS is seeking comments to inform future rulemaking. Specifically, the agency is seeking comments on the standardized approach to indemnity valuation and how it may affect members of the public, as well as any suggestions to improve it. APHIS is also seeking input on whether any species or commodity classes would not benefit from consolidation, whether consolidation would significantly alter disease management, and any other concerns.
This ANPR may be viewed in the Federal Register by clicking here. (https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2022-19260/indemnity-regulations). Members of the public may submit comments at www.regulations.gov. All comments must be received by Nov. 6.