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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More efficient cattle export to Guam underway

The CNMI hopes to finally see some positive changes in animal quarantine regulations that have hindered livestock transport from the CNMI to Guam.

During the Marianas Governors’ Summit held in September, Gov. Eloy Inos discussed trade barriers with Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo. Inos referred to the need to update import requirements to remove unnecessary restrictions. Calvo expressed his desire to move proactively to address these concerns.

Consequently, a resolution was passed at the historic first assembly of the Mariana Islands Legislature Association at the Guam Legislature this past November. The resolution recognized the need to address political, social, and economic issues and concerns, including agriculture and trade relations between the CNMI and Guam.

A regulation in particular that has made it difficult for livestock transport is the requirement for an anaplasmosis test as a condition of entry into Guam. Anaplasmosis is a cattle disease that is endemic to Guam and the CNMI; however, it is no longer considered to be of major importance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For over three years, the Department of Lands and Natural Resources has worked with Guam’s Department of Agriculture to propose amendments to phase out entry requirements and conditions that are no longer considered essential, are overly restrictive, or are not performing their intended purpose. DLNR Secretary Arnold Palacios said these amendments are important to advance livestock production and will be beneficial to both CNMI and Guam farmers and ranchers.

The CNMI has sought to enhance and facilitate movement of CNMI cattle to Guam, where a serious inbreeding problem is widely evident. CNMI veterinarian Dr. Ignacio Dela Cruz has stated that these overly restrictive quarantine regulations have been causing unnecessary 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. Allowing such CNMI cattle with superior genetic characteristics to enter Guam would greatly improve the productive qualities of Guam cattle. These qualities will in turn promote their agricultural economy, and would also be a tremendous economic benefit for CNMI ranchers as it would provide a large market for CNMI livestock,” Dela Cruz said.

An internal analysis conducted by Guam DOA addressed the concerns from CNMI DLNR, University of Guam, University of Hawaii, and interested private entities from both CNMI and Guam. The analysis provided a historical background and stated problems with current importation regulations. Moreover, the analysis provided data on the presence of anaplasmosis in Guam and the CNMI and recommended that anaplasmosis should be removed from the list of required tests for the importation of cattle anywhere in the United States and its territories.

Inos lauded the efforts of both governments in addressing this matter as cattle ranchers have waited a very long time to see this change.

“With the partnership of Governor Calvo, both CNMI DLNR and Guam DOA were able to make tremendous progress on this project,” said Inos. “This is certainly great news and a much welcome development to our ranchers.”

The amendments to the Guam agricultural regulations are expected to be implemented by early February 2014. (Office of the Governor)

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