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Summary: Currently the Texas Animal Health Commission is tasked with maintaining a disease traceability and animal identification system equivalent to the standards of the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Animal Identification System. However, the USDA system no longer exists. HB 2311 would task the Commission with establishing standards for a new disease traceability and identification program that is no more stringent than a federal disease traceability or animal identification program. The only way the commission could adopt more stringent standards would be in an emergency situation based on a specific disease. In order for this provision to be enacted, 2/3 of the commissioners would have to approve the measure. HB 2311 also repeals penalties for individuals who do not comply with the identification program.
Analysis: The Texas Animal Health Commission is tasked to run a system equivalent to the standards of a federal system that no longer exists, so the code clearly needs to be updated. By ensuring that the Texas Animal Health Commission does not set standards that exceed requirements of other federal animal programs, HB 2311 prevents future expansion of regulation. HB 2311 also works to protect individuals by including a mechanism that would allow the commission to take extra steps to combat a spread of animal disease. There is a high bar for enacting emergency powers and the commission with emergency authority is well represented by the affected industries. Public health and the livelihood of people who work in the livestock industry are protected by ensuring animal born disease is traced, contained, and eliminated. TPPA recommends a YES vote on HB 2311.