Tropical Soda Apple Southern States MOU and Compliance Agreement

January 2004
Pat Hogue - Okeechobee County Extension, Livestock Agent III

The Southern Regional Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) To Control Tropical Soda Apple (TSA) as developed by the Regional TSA Task Force is currently making it's rounds through the 13 Southern Region States and Puerto Rico for signature by the various counterparts to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. This is a document that was reported to you in this news letter as a potential on the horizon a few months ago in this newsletter and is now becoming a reality. The objectives of this document as stated within it is to prevent the Interstate movement of TSA through the movement of livestock, seed, plant products (including seed, sod and hay), soil and manure. From the objectives you can see that the livestock or cattle industry is not the only target in this understanding, but all the industries that have the potential of moving TSA plants or seeds.

Two sections of the MOU apply in particular to you as livestock producers and read as follows:

All parties agree:

  1. That livestock may move interstate from areas infested with TSA provided:
    • the state of origin Regulatory Agency verifies that such livestock have been maintained in a restricted TSA Fruit Free Area for a total period of at least 6 days prior to transport, or
    • the state of origin Regulatory Agency enters into a compliance agreement with an agricultural entity stating the entity in question agrees to comply with the TSA rules and regulations of the state of origin Regulatory Agency and the receiving state Regulatory Agency to allow for uninterrupted transport of livestock, hay, seed, and/or manure, or
    • the state of destination Regulatory Agency approves the entry of livestock (e.g. entry permit), provided they are maintained at the point of destination in a restricted TSA Fruit Free Area such that livestock are maintained for a holding period of at least 6 days, or
    • the livestock are transported through slaughter channels to a licensed red meat slaughter facility that has a TSA compliance agreement.

Livestock owners and managers in TSA areas are required to:

  1. Maintain livestock in a restricted TSA Fruit Free Area for at least 6 days immediately prior to movement, except for movements to premises with a TSA compliance agreement.
  2. Manage the restricted TSA Fruit Free Area so as to control TSA plants and prevent their fruit production. It is not necessary for the entire farm to be free of TSA plants.
  3. Implement TSA control practices within the restricted TSA Fruit Free Area in accordance with the Tropical Soda Apple Regional Harmonization Plan.
  4. Allow random inspections by state Regulatory Agency or U.S. Department of Agriculture personnel to assure TSA is being controlled.
  5. Enter into permit arrangements or compliance agreements attesting to the above in order to allow livestock to move interstate.

Other sections of the MOU apply to other segments of the livestock production industry including Livestock Auction Markets, order buyers, seed sod and hay producers, and conveyances (truckers). Additionally a compliance agreement for each entity (farm, ranch, livestock market, etc.) is in the process of being worked out that U.S. Department of Agriculture will want each entity to enter in to. The compliance agreement is a one page document signed you for instance as a producer for your ranch, USDA official and state regulatory official that you agree to help prevent the spread of TSA as outlined within the MOU and attachments to the compliance agreement and will make it easier for each of you to ship cattle interstate within the terms of these agreements.

A couple of notes of interest in this process are that calves are not considered high risk for spreading TSA and may in fact not have to be held prior to or after shipment in a TSA free area. If you are shipping to a premise that has a compliance agreement to hold cattle in a restricted area on arrival then you wouldn't have to hold them for 6 days on your property, and the shipping time (e.g. two days) would be considered part of the 6 day holding time. Therefore, since calves are low risk for spreading TSA, and high risk for getting sick if held for 6 days, all of this may be mute in shipping calves and may only apply to older cattle that would not run the risk of illness if held on your farm, or at the point of destination. Even if calves did need to be held in a TSA free area on your premises, they could be held with their mothers until shipment to reduce their risk of contracting disease.

The MOU has been signed by Florida, Georgia and by now probably Alabama and once signed by all states, Puerto Rico and USDA will go in to effect. Be looking for news of this in the next couple of months.

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