APHIS Contacts Individuals and Businesses That May Be Exempt From Licensing Requirements

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Washington, D.C., July 20, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is contacting certain individuals and businesses licensed under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to inform them that they could be exempt from licensing requirements as a result of recent changes to USDA’s animal welfare regulations.


APHIS changed its animal welfare regulations in June 2018 to provide certain small scale dealers and exhibitors with additional exemptions from licensing requirements.  These changes aligned the regulations with a 2014 Farm Bill amendment to the AWA giving the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to exempt certain animal dealers and exhibitors from licensing requirements under the Act if their business activities are “de minimis”, or small scale.


The change allows APHIS to more effectively use its resources and help ensure the humane treatment of animals under the AWA, by directing its inspection and compliance resources toward those licensed facilities that require additional oversight to meet the humane care requirements for regulated animals.  The changes also reduce the regulatory burden on small facilities.  


The individuals and businesses contacted by APHIS could be eligible for one of the exemptions based on the animal inventory documented by their APHIS Animal Care inspector during their last inspection.

Specifically, exhibitors with eight (8) or fewer pet animals, small exotic or wild mammals, and domesticated farm-type animals are now exempt from AWA licensing.  In addition, APHIS expanded the list of animals eligible for an existing exemption for dealers who maintain four (4) or fewer breeding females and sell only the offspring of those animals born and raised on his or her premises, for pets or exhibition.  This exemption also now applies to dealers of pet animals, small exotic and wild mammals, and domesticated farm-type animals.  Finally, APHIS clarified an existing exemption for “exhibitions intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences” by explaining that exemption includes exhibitions of exclusively domesticated farm-type animals, exhibitions of traditional farming and agricultural practices, and exhibitions of art portraying traditional farm and agricultural settings.


Individuals and businesses who have questions or who need more information about whether they need a license are asked to contact APHIS Animal Care.