December 24, 2013

Santa Gains All Permits for Travel, California is First Stop
Dr. Peter Merrill, APHIS Director of Animal Imports posted BREAKING NEWS out of Washington DC TODAY that the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued a movement permit to Mr. S. Claus of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited. 
The permit will allow Santa and his reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 6 PM December 24, 2013 and 6 AM December 25, 2013, through or over any northern border port.
In a fireside interview, Santa told California Ag Today that after entering from the north, his itinerary will commence in California’s Central Valley, where he can stock up on his favorite snacks: tree nuts and kale. Santa will bring some citrus back to the elves.

Santa - Across the Field in the Distance

“During this season of giving, USDA wants to do everything in its power to help Santa,” said Dr. John R. Clifford, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer. USDA has agreed to waive normal application fees and entry inspection/sniffing dogs/overtime costs/permits/baggage fees/passportcertification/visiting visa and foreign currency exchange, provided he winks his eye and wishes port personnel a Merry Christmas at the time of crossing.
APHIS also waived the normally applicable disease testing requirements, as the North Pole is recognized by APHIS as a negligible risk for all livestock diseases; at a recent inspection, the reindeer were found to be healthy and able to prance and paw with each hoof.
As a condition of entry, Santa Claus must certify the reindeer as never having been fed anything other than hay, sugarplums, and gingerbread. The reindeer must also be individually identified with microchips or official ear tag identification, and must respond to the names ‘Dasher’, ‘Dancer’, ‘Prancer’, ‘Vixen’, ‘Comet’, ‘Cupid’, ‘Donner,’  ‘Blitzen’ and ‘Rudolph’ when interacting with port personnel. 
No more than one reindeer in the group may be visibly affected by ‘Rednose Syndrome’, and upon entry, port personnel will visually inspect the reindeer to ensure they are healthy and fit for continued travel.
They will arrive pulling a wooden sleigh that has jingling bells attached and is filled with brightly wrapped gifts. Port personnel will clean and disinfect the runners and underside of the sleigh at the time of entry.
The Division of Motor Vehicles has already provided Santa with registration plates for the sleigh. Santa renewed his drivers’ license just in time for the journey.
“With these steps completed, the reindeer will continue their journey across the country and around the world, spreading holiday cheer as they go,” said Clifford.
APHIS regulates the movement of cervids, noted by their antlers, including reindeer, to protect the health of America’s livestock population. The permitting process provides assurance that only healthy animals enter the United States.

California Ag Today wishes everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, a good 2014 crop and a deluge of rain.