The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is inviting public comments on a proposal to introduce a notice-based process for revising user fees for certain veterinary services. The proposed rule would update fee rates yearly using a notice-based process, rather than the current, lengthy rule-making process. APHIS relies on user fees to cover services including veterinary diagnostic services, such as disease testing as well as certain import-and export-related services, including inspections and application processing, among others.

Under the proposed notice-based process, APHIS would publish a notice in the Federal Register listing the proposed fees and invite public comment. The notice would include justification for any changes and describe cost-saving measures taken by the agency. When the comment period ends, APHIS would review and address any public comments and publish a subsequent notice providing the final rates. APHIS would publish the updated fee rates on the user fees web page. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food Safety Inspection Service has recently implemented similar noticed-based processes.

The proposed change would streamline the process and reduce the time it takes to update user fee rates, ensuring APHIS has sufficient funds to cover current customer needs using appropriate rates. It would also increase transparency by publishing annual notices that would include justifications for all fees and any changes. The proposed rule only addresses the process for setting fees and would not change them.

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This proposed rule may be viewed in today’s Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2022-21030/process-for-establishing-rates-for-veterinary-services-user-fees. Beginning Monday, October 3, 2022, members of the public may submit comments at www.regulations.gov. All comments must be received by December 2, 2022.