A proposal to update Guam’s existing quarantine regulations to allow the CNMI to export live cattle to Guam is one of the issues that the House would want to bring to the table when they discuss trade between the two territories during the Nov. 12 and 13 inaugural session of the Mariana Islands Legislature Association Congress.
At least half of the House’s 20 members will be going to Guam for the MILA session, as of Wednesday’s tentative count by the speaker.
Another topic that CNMI lawmakers would be adding to the discussion list is interisland travel, including allowing small aircraft to fly from Tinian to Guam without U.S. Transportation Security Administration clearance. Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz has been pushing for this.
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) met Wednesday with House members and officials from the Department of Lands and Natural Resources and Commonwealth Ports Authority, in preparation for the issues that CNMI lawmakers want to bring up during MILA’s inaugural session.
“My hope is we go there with relevant issues…and hopefully with results, not just full of talk,” the speaker said as he wrapped up the meeting at past 12pm.
The MILA seeks to improve the quality of life, relationships and future of the CNMI and Guam communities.
DLNR Secretary Arnold Palacios and CNMI state veterinarian Dr. Ike Dela Cruz said the issue is to ship live cattle from the CNMI without testing for bovine anaplasmosis, a cattle disease endemic in the Marianas.
Anasplasmosis testing is currently required as a condition of entry by the Guam Department of Agriculture, as specified in their Animal Quarantine Regulations and only animals that test negative are eligible for importation.
Removing such testing requirement “will undoubtedly serve as a tremendous economic boost and benefit for all the Marianas people,” DLNR said.
Dela Cruz and Palacios separately said both Guam and the CNMI have cases of anasplasmosis.
“And Guam does not have an active eradication program for this. Animals in both Guam and the CNMI are exposed to this disease, so their blood would test positive but that does not necessarily mean they are sick. The CNMI won’t ship sick cattle,” Dela Cruz told Saipan Tribune.
DLNR officials said the MILA is a perfect venue to bring up the need to update Guam’s quarantine regulations to remove testing requirements for bovine anaplasmosis and other diseases endemic to both territories.
The goal is to enhance and facilitate the movement of CNMI cattle to Guam, where there is currently a serious inbreeding problem.
“This condition has been causing unnecessary, unwelcome, and unwanted productive and reproductive problems and failures. The productive qualities of CNMI cattle have tremendously improved due to the practice of artificial insemination using frozen semen imported from the U.S. mainland,” DLNR said.
It added that allowing CNMI cattle with superior genetic characteristics to enter Guam would advance and greatly improve the productive qualities of Guam cattle, thereby promoting their agricultural economy.
It would also be a tremendous economic benefit for CNMI ranchers as it would provide a large market for CNMI livestock, DLNR added.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture itself no longer considers bovine anaplasmosis a cattle disease of major importance, it said.
Besides CNMI lawmakers, the state veterinarian will also be at the MILA session in Guam.
Dela Cruz said the CNMI and Guam quarantine offices have already been communicating about the matter for quite some time, and DLNR hopes that having lawmakers from the two territories also tackling the issue will finally pave the way for the transport of live cattle from the CNMI to Guam.
Guam Speaker Judith T. Won Pat has proposed a cruise line industry, trade between the two territories, and health care among the topics of discussion.
House session on Rota
In other news, the speaker said the House is likely to hold a Nov. 15 session on Rota, so that those attending the MILA session in Guam will be able to go to Rota from Guam instead of taking two separate trips.
Deleon Guerrero said the House expects to hold at least one session on Rota and one session on Tinian every year.
The Tinian session would be held in December, the speaker added.