oversight

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: Importation of Beef from Argentina

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-07-09.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Office of the General Counsel


      B-277346



      July 9, 1997

      The Honorable Richard G. Lugar
      Chairman
      The Honorable Tom Harkin
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Bob Smith
      Chairman
      The Honorable Charles W. Stenholm
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Agriculture
      House of Representatives

      Subject:   Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:
                 Importation of Beef from Argentina

      Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, this is our report
      on a major rule promulgated by the Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant
      Health Inspection Service, entitled "Importation of Beef from Argentina"
      (RIN: 0579-AA71). We received the rule on June 24, l997. It was published in the
      Federal Register as a final rule on June 26, 1997. 62 Fed. Reg. 34385.

      The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is amending the regulations
      concerning the importation of animal products to allow, under certain conditions,
      the importation of fresh, chilled, or frozen beef from Argentina. The agency states
      that the change is in keeping with provisions of trade agreements recently entered
      into by the United States as it removes unnecessary restrictions on such
      importation.

      The agency's decision to consider Argentina a region from which beef could be
      imported with a negligible risk of introducing or disseminating foot and mouth
      disease was based on an analysis of a number of risk factors detailed in the
      supplementary information published with the final rule. In addition, the agency
      will require certification by Argentine officials that a number of mitigating measures


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have been taken before the beef is made available for importation into the United
States. 62 Fed. Reg. 34385 at 34386.

Enclosed is our assessment of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's
compliance with the procedural steps required by section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through
(iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule. Our review indicates that the agency
complied with the applicable requirements.

If you have any questions about this report, please contact Kathleen E. Wannisky,
Associate General Counsel for Operations, at (202) 512-5207. The official
responsible for GAO evaluation work relating to the Department of Agriculture,
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is Robert Robinson, Director for Food
and Agriculture Issues. Mr. Robinson can be reached at (202) 512-5138.




Robert P. Murphy
General Counsel

Enclosure

cc: Terry L. Medley
    Administrator
    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
    Department of Agriculture




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                                                                        ENCLOSURE

       ANALYSIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(B)(i)-(iv) OF A MAJOR RULE
                                ISSUED BY
                   THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
            ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE
                                ENTITLED
                "IMPORTATION OF BEEF FROM ARGENTINA"
                             (RIN: 0579-AA71)

Background

On April 18, 1996, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS),
Department of Agriculture, published in the Federal Register (61 Fed. Reg. 16978-
17105) a proposed rule that was intended to revise six different parts of Title 9 of
the Code of Federal Regulations. These revisions established importation criteria
for certain animal and plant products based on the level of disease risk in specified
geographical locations.

The agency initially solicited comments for a 90-day period ending July 17, 1996. It
later extended the period for an additional 60 days.

Based on its review of the comments received, APHIS has decided that further
analysis of most parts of the proposed rule is warranted. APHIS did determine,
however, that the amendments to the regulations allowing, under certain conditions,
the importation of fresh, chilled, or frozen beef from Argentina into the United
States could be issued as a final rule at this time. This report addresses only that
final rule.

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

An economic impact analysis is included with the Regulatory Impact Analysis
at 62 Fed. Reg. 34389. According to APHIS, if Argentina was able to fill its
20 thousand metric ton (KT) quota of nonfed beef, consumers would save
approximately $90 million annually. This would be offset, however, by annual
losses of more than $40 million to the U.S. dairy and beef sectors because of lower
prices for products. These losses translate into reduced net farm income of just
over $15 per beef farm and $83 per dairy farm.




                                                                    GAO/OGC-97-52
(ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 603-605,
607 and 609

On April 18, 1996, APHIS published its Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis in
the preamble to the proposed rule (61 Fed. Reg. 16978 at 17016). The analysis
concluded that, because the rule relaxed the foot and mouth disease-related
restrictions on the importation of beef from Argentina, the proposed rule could have
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities in the
United States. According to APHIS, over 95 percent of the beef and dairy industries
are composed of producers and firms that can be categorized as small according to
the Small Business Administration's size classification. The analysis discussed the
potential impact on the U.S. livestock sector, feedlot operators, live cattle
dealers/transporters, cattle slaughterers/primary processors, and the dairy industry.
The analysis invited comments on these potential impacts.

On June 26, 1997, APHIS published its Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (62 Fed.
Reg. 34385 at 34389). In that analysis, APHIS discusses the reason for the final rule
and the legal basis for it. It also describes and estimates the number of small
entities affected by the rule and discusses the recordkeeping, reporting, and other
compliance requirements.

Finally, it describes the alternatives considered in the development of the rule and
why it rejected them and adopted the rule as proposed. The alternatives included
(1) not lifting the current importation restrictions for beef from Argentina and (2)
allowing importation under either less or more stringent conditions than those
adopted in the rule. APHIS rejected the first alternative because it believed
scientific evidence permitted importation of beef from Argentina under certain
conditions and not permitting such importation would be contrary to trade
agreements entered into by the United States. APHIS rejected the second
alternative because it believed that less stringent mitigating measures than the ones
proposed would increase the risk of the introduction of foot and mouth disease
into the United States and that more stringent mitigating conditions would be
unnecessarily restrictive.

(iii) Agency actions relevant to sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform
Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. §§ 1532-1535

According to APHIS, this rule contains no federal mandates (under the regulatory
provisions of Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995) that may result
in expenditures by state, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or to the
private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year.




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(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under acts and executive orders

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

The rule was issued as a notice of proposed rulemaking on April 18, 1996 (61 Fed.
Reg. 16978) under the notice and comment procedures of 5 U.S.C. § 553. Initially,
APHIS allowed 90 days for comments, but in response to several requests that the
comment period be extended, it allowed an additional 60-day comment period. All
comments were due by September 17, 1996. During the comment period APHIS
also held four public hearings at which both oral and written comments were
received. In total, 113 comments were received from representatives of state and
foreign governments, international economic and political organizations, veterinary
associations, state departments of agriculture, livestock industry associations,
exporting and importing industry associations, and other interested parties. Based
on the number and complexity of the comments, APHIS decided to issue only a
small portion of the proposed rule at this time and to review and reanalyze the
other portions of the rule before issuing them as final.

Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3520

According to APHIS, the information collection and recordkeeping requirements
included in this final rule have been approved by the Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act. The assigned
OMB control number is 0579-0015.

Statutory authorization for the rule

APHIS cites as statutory authorization for this rule 7 U.S.C. §§ 147a, 150ee, 161, 162,
and 450; 19 U.S.C. § 1306; 21 U.S.C. §§ 111, 114a, 134a, 134b, 134c, 134f, 136, and
136a; 31 U.S.C. § 9701; 42 U.S.C. §§ 4331 and 4332.

Executive Order No. 12866

The final rule is considered to be an "economically significant regulatory action"
under Executive Order No. 12866 and was reviewed by OMB for compliance with
that order.

National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et seq.

APHIS performed an environmental assessment and determined that the actions
required or authorized by this rule will not present a significant risk of introducing
or disseminating foot and mouth disease into the United States and will not have a
significant impact on the quality of the human environment. Based on those



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findings, the Administrator has determined that an environmental impact statement
need not be prepared.

Executive Order No. 12988

According to APHIS, this rule has been reviewed under Executive Order No. 12988
(Civil Justice Reform) and has been found to meet the standards set forth in the
order. The final rule preempts all state and local laws and regulations that are
inconsistent with the final rule, has no retroactive effect, and does not require
administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court challenging this rule.




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