As of November 3, a reorganization is underway at USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Veterinary Services’ branch. Under its new structure, VS is organized into four units, including Surveillance, Preparedness and Response (SPRS), National Import Export Services (NIES), Science, Technology and Analysis (STAS) and Program Support Services (PSS). According to a memo distributed to stakeholders, the new organization by major services will allow VS to better align with the changing dynamics of animal health and the needs of VS customers.
APHIS Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services Dr. John Clifford will continue to oversee VS under the new organization. A variety of factors led to the reorganization, ranging from changing industry needs, expansion of international trade, emerging diseases, technology, consumer interest in animal agriculture, tight budgetary constraints, and an effort to reduce regulatory burdens and increase flexibility. Agency documents continuously reiterate a commitment to delivering high quality service to its customers.
Under the old framework, there were four divisions in VS, including field operations, the National Center for Animal Health Emergency Management, National Animal Health Policy and Programs and the chief operating officer.
The new SPRS unit will focus on animal health needs for each of the major animal commodity groups and will carry out functions ranging from early awareness and surveillance to the development and field implementation of animal health programs and emergency response.
As international trade increases, the NIES branch brings together VS import and export activities, ranging from policy setting to inspection at ports of entry.
The nation is divided into six geographic regions for both SPRS and NIES. SPRS will have an assistant district director to serve as the primary points of contact for state animal health officials and other local stakeholders. NIES will have a service center in each region as well as several animal quarantine facilities and multiple ports of entry.
The STAS unit brings together VS science centers to provide a scientific, technical and analytical foundation needed to support VS in meeting its obligations.
According to Kansas Animal Health Commissioner Dr. Bill Brown, APHIS communicated with state animal health officials about the reorganization. He added that some state animal health officials “are a little nervous” with the reorganization because many states, including Kansas, previously had a federal veterinary official who served only one state.
Dr. Brown said the decades’ old working relationship between animal health officials in Kansas and with USDA VS will look much different going forward. He said Kansas has worked closely with the “area veterinarian in charge” who served only Kansas in the past. Under the new structure, the AVIC will now be the regional assistant director for the SPRS branch. Kansas is in a region with six other states under the new structure, but Dr. Brown said he hopes to continue the same type of working relationship under the new structure.
For more information, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/index.shtml.