“APHIS has a long history of providing emergency support in the wake of hurricanes and other natural disasters to help producers as well as members of the public and their pets,” Kevin Shea, acting under secretary for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs, said in a statement. “While we always hope our services will not be needed, we have a trained cadre of first responders who stand ready to support our partners on the ground and assist local communities in times of crisis.”
APHIS veterinarians are working alongside the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) to conduct on-site assessments of livestock and document the needs of producers whose ranches were in the path of the storm. All needs assessments are being shared directly with the joint State-Federal Emergency Operations Center for tasking to provide prompt assistance.
With rain expected to continue, additional APHIS staff is standing by to support livestock operations that might require assistance and support in the next several days. APHIS possesses boats, man power and aircraft ready for evacuation of animals and people, and for the delivery of food and other supplies to stranded livestock to ensure their welfare until waters recede. If necessary, APHIS will assist with carcass removal and disposal, as well.
APHIS and TAHC also have a joint cattle fever tick eradication program in south Texas with the quarantine area extending more than 500 miles from Del Rio to the Gulf of Mexico. This area has not seen excessive rain and flooding; however APHIS is proactively assisting producers by conducting inspections and issuing permits to allow for the relocation of their livestock to safer grounds should it be necessary in the days ahead. APHIS plans to resume normal operations to prevent the spread of the fever tick outside the quarantine zone in the absence of significant rainfall.