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Philippines declared FMD-free

MANILA, Philippines—With the country declared free of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), local meat farmers, traders, and processors can now freely trade and transport animals and meat products with much less red tape, the Department of Agriculture said.

The DA and the National Meat Inspection Service made the announcement following the recognition and declaration of the entire Philippines as FMD-free without vaccination by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), the world body tasked to monitor animal health global. The declaration was given in France last May.

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The certification is expected to boost the country’s livestock and meat industries as it would make the local products marketable to foreign markets. At present, the DA said it is talking to buyers from Malaysia and Singapore to import meat products from the Philippines.

In the past, hog and cattle farmers and processors were not allowed to transport their products within the country as some areas were not FMD-free.

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Only animal products that have ready buyers were allowed to be shipped, but under certain quarantine restrictions and with clearance from law enforcement authorities. The restrictions were placed to eradicate the disease in the Philippines.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala recently signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 19, August 2, 2011, lifting all FMD-related transport restrictions for swine, cattle, carabao, sheep, goats, and other cloven-footed animals, including their meat, meat products, and other by-products nationwide.

Under the new regulations, farmers and traders wanting to transport live animals would only need to secure a written authority or permit from the director of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) or his duly authorized representative.

The BAI will also issue a veterinary health certificate to attest that the animals are healthy and come from areas free of any outbreak or disease.

Meanwhile, processors and traders are required to secure a certificate of meat inspection from the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) when they intend to transport meat and meat products.

Alcala also required BAI veterinary quarantine officers and regional and local government veterinarians to submit a monthly report on any positive or negative disease incidence in their respective areas.

Although the country has been declared FMD-free, the BAI will still maintain a yearly stock of at least 2,000 bottles or about 100,000 doses of FMD vaccines which could be readily used in case of an outbreak, the DA said.

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In case of an FMD resurgence, the DA through the BAI and other concerned agencies and livestock owners should stamp out or isolate all infected animals, and vaccinate other exposed susceptible animals.

The DA will also institute a ‘ring certification’ and impose strict quarantine rules within a three-kilometer radius, depending on the scale of the outbreak.

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TAGS: Agriculture, animal health, Food, foot and mouth disease, Health, meat
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