The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that Indiana has become the latest among a handful of states taking action to help provide new opportunities for small businesses processing meat.  Indiana has joined USDA’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program, which gives certain selected small and very small state-inspected meat processors the option to ship meat and poultry products bearing an official USDA Mark of Inspection across state lines. These efforts are part of USDA's commitment to America's small and midsized farmers and ranchers.

Indiana joins Ohio, North Dakota and Wisconsin in the voluntary shipment program designed to expand market opportunities for America's small meat and poultry producers and processors, strengthen state and local economies, and increase consumer access to safe, locally-produced food.

“This program plays an important role in expanding opportunities for local producers and small businesses, while also ensuring that a robust food safety inspection system is maintained to protect consumers,” said Brian Ronholm, USDA Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety.

State-inspected establishments selected to participate in the program are required to comply with federal standards under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). The facilities receive inspection services from state inspection personnel that have been trained in FMIA and PPIA requirements. The facilities are then allowed to sell and ship their products outside their home states. 

The Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program was established by the 2008 Farm Bill.  In 2011, USDA finalized regulations to allow state employees to administer federal regulations and use the USDA Mark of Inspection at selected establishments.  Prior to instituting the program, state-inspected businesses did not have the opportunity to sell products outside their state.

FSIS is committed to helping small and very small plants comply with FSIS regulations through their outreach efforts.  The agency’s partnership with other USDA agencies through the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative provides a full range of services to over 90 percent of the more than 6,200 federally inspected small or very small meat, poultry and egg processing plants.

Indiana state-inspected establishments interested in shipping interstate should contact the Indiana State Board of Animal Health.

Source: FSIS