Wilton Simpson Issues updated rule to protect Florida livestock from avian influenza

by | May 13, 2024

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson has issued an Emergency Rule to enhance restrictions on cattle importation, aiming to prevent the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) into the state by enforcing specific testing and movement requirements for cattle from affected areas.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson issued an Emergency Rule on Monday to strengthen restrictions on cattle importation, aiming to prevent the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) into the state. The rule builds upon measures first implemented in April, following confirmed HPAI cases in livestock across eight other states.

The update strengthens the previous restrictions by implementing specific testing and movement requirements. It prohibits the importation of cattle exposed to or infected with Bovine Associated Influenza A Syndrome (H5N1) and mandates that dairy cattle from states with suspected or confirmed H5N1 cases must have a valid Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection issued within seven days prior to importation, unless the cattle are scheduled for immediate slaughter.

“The safety and security of our food supply is critical to our prosperity, and this updated emergency rule is another proactive step Florida is taking to protect our livestock and the health of our citizens,” said Commissioner Wilton Simpson. “Florida is committed to working collaboratively with federal, state, and industry partners to mitigate the risks posed by highly pathogenic avian influenza and ensure the continued safety and integrity of Florida’s agriculture industry”

HPAI, which primarily affects birds, poses economic risks to the poultry industry due to high mortality rates and containment costs. The disease also occasionally infects mammals, including humans, through direct contact with infected animals. While Florida remains free of HPAI in its livestock, the proactive measures aim to maintain this status and safeguard the state’s agriculture sector.

Florida’s agriculture industry, contributing over $180 billion annually and supporting more than 2.5 million jobs, stands to benefit from these stringent biosecurity measures.

“Florida is at lower risk for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in domestic livestock as we are net exporters of cattle and import few lactating dairy cattle,” said Dr. Michael Short, State Veterinarian and Director of the Division of Animal Industry said following the April ruling.


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