Commissioners for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) will meet at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 23, in Round Rock
(just north of Austin) to address proposed regulations for registering sites where livestock, exotic livestock, domestic fowl,
and exotic fowl are held, managed or handled. The meeting will be held in the Marriott North Hotel at 2600 La Frontera
Blvd. in Round Rock and is open to the public.
"The TAHC commissioners proposed regulations for premises registration at their December meeting, following passage of
HB 1361, the legislative authority for the rules and fee collection. The commissioners postponed action during their
February session, opting for more time to consider the comments received during that meeting. It is important to note that
the commissioners will focus solely on the proposed regulations for premises registration at the March 23 commission
meeting," said Dr. Hillman, Texas’ state veterinarian and head of the TAHC, the state’s livestock and poultry health
regulatory agency. The TAHC’s proposed regulations, "Premises and Animal Identification" were published in the
December 23, 2005, issue of the Texas Register.
"The commissioners initially considered postponing action until May, but the commission needs to resolve this issue sooner,
rather than later," said Dr. Hillman. "The commissioners have a number of options in consideration of the proposed
regulations. They may: adopt the proposed regulations as presented; amend the proposed regulations; forgo adoption; or
further postpone action."
"Premises registration is underway nationally, and is required in Wisconsin, and soon will be required in Indiana. More than
205,000 sites have been signed up - 7,500 of those in Texas. Registration is relatively easy, and information requested is
limited, including a contact name, phone number, physical address and a list of species on the site. Registrants are not asked
how many acres or animals they own," said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas’ state veterinarian and head of the TAHC, the state’s
livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. He noted that Texas has more than 200,000 premises.
"Knowing where species of animals are located would greatly enhance our ability to alert owners and get ahead of a disease
outbreak before it spreads. In 2002, for example, Exotic Newcastle Disease was detected in a neighborhood in Los Angeles.
The infection raced through small flocks, then spread to 22 commercial flocks, costing $160 million to eradicate," said Dr.
Hillman. He said premises information, confidential by law, would enable animal health officials to "map out" emergency
response, and save precious time searching for sites with susceptible species, and exposed or potentially infected animals.
Dr. Hillman said recommended amendments to the proposed regulations would allow 4-H and FFA students to be covered
by their 4H club or FFA chapter premises identification numbers, if the students maintain animal projects on a site that,
otherwise would not need to be registered.
Recommended amendments also would exempt persons if they have only caged exotic fowl (such as, but not limited to
parakeets, budgies, finches, canaries, cockatiels, parrots and other caged birds) and these fowl are housed in the person’s
residence and not used for sale, barter or exchange. Dr. Hillman noted that, during an avian disease outbreak, the TAHC
may require the premises to be registered, if the site is within a quarantine, surveillance or eradication zone established by
the TAHC for controlling or eradicating the disease.
The proposed regulations call for premises registration to be compulsory, beginning July 1, 2006. Persons could register
their premises in Texas at no charge through June 30, 2006. The premises registered prior to July 1, 2006, would be due for
a two-year renewal July 1, 2008, when a $10 per year fee would be paid as a biennial fee of $20 fee for two years.
Under the proposed regulations, persons who register on or after July 1, 2006, would pay the $20 two-year fee upon initial
registration. Registration renewal and the $20 two-year fee would be required every 24 months thereafter.
Premises can be registered now online at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us, or by completing a registration form and faxing or
mailing it to the TAHC. Many county extension agents, as well as agricultural associations, have registration forms
available, or can assist in registering online. The TAHC also has staff members who can assist by phone. The TAHC’s
headquarters in Austin can be reached toll-free at 1-800-550-8242.