From Adrianne Mock, Legislative Vice President.
October, 2020. How to participate is at the bottom of this update.
In September and October, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and APHIS (Animal and Plant Inspection Service) held 3 listening sessions to allow stakeholders to comment on the upcoming regulatory process for “birds not bred for research”, which includes ALL of our companion/pet and aviary birds. This was in response to lawsuits filed by animal RIGHTS (not welfare) organizations; a judge made the decision to force the rulemaking process to begin.
Although the sessions were intended for stakeholders – those individuals who breed, raise, keep, sell and exhibit birds; there were several comments from animal RIGHTS organizations (AR) even though they are NOT stakeholders and have no experience with bird breeding or keeping.
Generally, the animal rights organizations want the strictest possible regulations on EVERYONE with NO exceptions. Their comments included NO contact or interaction between humans and birds. No sales of birds in “pet” stores. They also stated quite clearly that they want to directly affect bird owners/breeders; and that “no one has the right to own another species”. Their extinctionist agenda was quite clear.
There were also several speakers directly involved with aviculture including members of AFA, ASA (Avicultural Society of America), and others. Falconers associations, exhibition poultry, gamefowl/ waterfowl and pheasant associations also spoke up; they are already tightly regulated by the federal government but ARs want dual regulations. This will cause problems with enforcement as in many states local regulations will directly oppose federal regulations.
It was made clear by stakeholders that regulations for avian species are going to be much more difficult to write (and enforce) than those for dogs and cats, since birds comprise hundreds of species, many with specific individual requirements for nutrition, housing, handling and general care and that there is no “one size fits all” potential. In addition, in mixed aviaries such as those in zoos, regulations for various species will most likely conflict therefore performance based designs based on individual species requirements and not engineering designs will be necessary.
It was also made clear that NO inspections can take place during breeding seasons as this will be detrimental to the overall well being of the birds. In addition, inspectors will be required to have complete change of clothing, spray disinfectant and/or shoe covers, gloves and other protective gear to prevent disease transmission between facilities.
Stakeholder comments will be open until the 29th of October. Should you choose to comment, be polite, respectful, and base your comments on science and experience. The ARs are using the “emotion play” to make their point.
The American Federation of Aviculture, the Avicultural Society of America, the Organization of Professional Aviculturists, the National Finch and Softbill Society will be making comments; If you choose to comment you might want to note that you are a member of whichever of these organizations apply to you. In addition, please request that your national species-specific organizations (the Quaker Society, the Cockatiel Society and others) and clubs comment as well. The more factual information we can provide the better. If you exhibit birds, do educational outreach, this WILL affect you; if you are a vendor that supplies products for breeders, pet/companion and aviary birds you will also be affected.
These are the questions they put forward for responses:
In order to develop regulations for birds that support both stakeholder needs and animal welfare, we are seeking input on the following questions during each of the listening sessions:
- Are there appropriate performance-based standards we could establish across a wide variety of species of birds? Can we use classes of birds to set performance-based standards appropriate for the class? If so, what might these classes look like?
- How do bird breeders avoid interfering with nesting and breeding or other biological activities of birds? How can we ensure that housing, feeding, or inspection requirements do not interfere with these activities?
- Should we revise or add exemptions for certain dealers, exhibitors, operators of auction sales, and carriers and intermediate handlers of birds not bred for use in research? If so, what should those exemptions be? Please provide supporting data if possible.
- Are there thresholds beyond which an entity should not be required to be licensed? For example, we are aware that there are many entities who breed small numbers of birds; if we should exempt those entities, what exemption criteria should we use?
- Are there certain species which should be exempt?
Link for comments:
APHIS is accepting written comments from September 29, 2020 through October 29, 2020 at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=APHIS-2020-0068-0001.
All written comments will be visible to the public. APHIS will give the same consideration to written comments submitted via regulations.gov and verbal comments provided during our public listening sessions.
There are already a very large number of comments on the site- many are “boilerplate” from animal rights organizations. Also remember that this is a GOVERNMENT website, and it may not be easy to navigate. Please be patient and take your time.
I recommend writing out your comment and THEN copy/paste on the site; this will allow you to edit as necessary. You may also want to post your comment as a PDF to prevent tampering.
What is the Nature of AFA’s Legislative Awareness Program?
- AFA’s legislative program addresses National, State, Local, and International levels of legislative issues through a Board-appointed Legislative Vice-President. AFA has not initiated legislation, nor do we function as a lobby organization.
- At the National level, AFA: Monitors proposed laws originating from Congress and proposed regulations originating from federal agencies which may affect aviculture;
- AFA then informs bird owners and breeders about impending laws or regulations; presents appropriate educational materials to government officials regarding the effects of the proposed laws and regulations on aviculture; and maintains contact with other animal organization watchdogs like the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).
- At the State level, AFA provides guidance and information to bird owners, bird breeders, and bird organizations when they are faced with proposed state laws and regulations.
- At the Local level, the AFA has produced “The Bird Keepers Legislative Handbook” to assist bird owners with local, county, or state regulatory matters.
- At the International level, AFA maintains an NGO presence on the CITES Animals Committee which includes monitoring CITES proposals for their eventual effect on private aviculture in the U.S.