Livestock illegally imported risk to all

Published 9:45 pm Thursday, May 14, 2020

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The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is reminding citizens that illegally importing livestock to Tennessee can have wide-reaching negative effects for us all.

Livestock producers, dealers and citizens must adhere to state and federal import requirements for any livestock shipped into Tennessee. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to backlogs at meat processing facilities in other states, leading to an increase in illegal shipments and sales of pigs in Tennessee.

“This presents a health risk for livestock and people in Tennessee,” said state veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty. “Even swine that are raised commercially can carry diseases that aren’t detectable without the proper testing and verification. It’s critical for everyone to follow livestock import rules and requirements to make sure we don’t bring illness here.”

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The Tennessee Department of Agriculture oversees interstate and intrastate movement of animals in Tennessee. The TDA Agricultural Crime Unit will work with law enforcement agencies and animal health technicians to confirm import compliance for livestock in transit and at livestock markets statewide. Illegal importation of livestock can result in civil penalties up to $1,000 per animal and/or criminal charges.

All swine entering Tennessee must have documentation. If the swine are moving straight to slaughter or an approved livestock market, an owner-shipper statement is appropriate. All other swine movement requires a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection.

The Tennessee Veterinarian Office seeks to prevent the spread of disease through import and movement requirements, livestock traceability, disaster mitigation and the services of the C. E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory.

For more information about statewide animal import requirements, log onto:

Individuals planning to purchase livestock for meat should first check local processors for scheduling availability. Many facilities are booked several months out, requiring extended time and expense to maintain and care for the livestock before processing.

Pick Tennessee Products offers a directory of meat processors online at: