Producers, livestock markets and other stakeholders have another month to comment on proposed rule changes governing how the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) approves facilities that receive livestock for interstate commerce, along with other rules affecting marketing facilities.

APHIS proposed the rule changes on January 2, and the comment period was due to end on March 2, but is now extended to April 2, 2015.

The proposed changes, according to APHIS, would the agency’s regulations governing livestock marketing facilities while still ensuring the animal disease traceability of livestock moved to these facilities in interstate commerce.

Some key changes in the proposal include:

Noting that current rules were established when diseases such as nrucellosis were more prevalent, PHIS proposes to remove the requirement that an accredited veterinarian, State representative, or APHIS representative must be on the premises of APHIS-approved livestock marketing facilities at all times on sale days. Instead, the requirement would specify that the facility must allow Federal and State representatives to perform duties at the facility in accordance with Federal and State regulations, and that accredited veterinarians must be available (either physically present or on-call) on sale days in order to provide any inspection of livestock that is required by the regulations before the animals leave the facility and to issue interstate certificates of veterinary inspection (ICVIs) as necessary.

Whether or not they seek APHIS approval for interstate marketing, all livestock marketing facilities would have to allow APHIS or State representatives to collect blood samples, conduct testing, and carry out operations and measures at the facilities in order to detect, control, and eradicate diseases and pests of livestock. In order to carry out these operations and measures, Additionally, all livestock marketing facilities would have to maintain a record of the receipt, distribution and application of all official identification devices and USDA-approved backtags at the facility, and make those records available to authorities if needed for disease traceback and control.

References in the rules to “approved livestock facilities,” “approved stockyards,” and “specifically approved stockyards” would change to “approved livestock marketing facilities,” to clarify that the rules apply to stockyards, auction barns and buying stations, but not to slaughtering facilities, quarantine lots or private livestock-production facilities.

You can submit comments online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail by sending to Docket No. APHIS-2014-0018, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

Details of the proposed rule changes are available here.