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USDA announces Montana can ship meat across state lines

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the State of Montana have finalized a Cooperative Interstate Shipment agreement, which provides an opportunity for selected state-inspected meat and poultry processors to ship their products across state lines. Under the CIS agreement, the State of Montana may inspect meat products produced in selected establishments for shipment throughout the United States.

The CIS program was launched in 2012 under Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack after being authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. With the addition of Montana, 10 states now participate in the program to promote the expansion of business opportunities for state-inspected meat and poultry establishments. Under the CIS, selected state-inspected establishments that comply with federal inspection requirements are permitted to ship their product in interstate commerce.

“This announcement is part of USDA’s commitment to build more and better markets, a more resilient supply chain and better food system, and to increase competition in agricultural markets across America,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety.

“USDA is working with states to ensure they have the tools and resources necessary to expand existing capacity and thrive for many decades to come. The Cooperative Interstate Shipment program provides an excellent opportunity for small meat and poultry processors to build their local and regional marketplaces, while ensuring the safety of the meat and poultry products they produce,” she said.

The CIS program is limited to states that have established a Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) program for products to be shipped solely within the state. To be eligible to participate in the CIS program, state MPI programs must meet a number of criteria to demonstrate that the inspection that it provides to state-inspected plants will be the “same as” the inspection that FSIS provides to official federal establishments. For instance, a state must demonstrate that it has the necessary legal authority to administer and enforce requirements that are the same as the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) and applicable regulations.

In addition, the state must collect regulatory samples at the same frequency as federal inspectors and use the same analytical methods at laboratories that meet the same level of accreditation as the FSIS laboratories. The assigned state inspectors may remain as the establishment’s onsite inspectors, provided they have the same training and inspect the plant under the “same as” regulatory standards as their federal counterparts in FSIS-inspected establishments.

FSIS provides ongoing oversight of the CIS program to ensure that participating states maintain and operate their “same as” programs in a manner that complies with all applicable federal statutes and regulations and follows FSIS directives and notices. FSIS reimburses the states for 60% of their costs associated with providing this interstate eligible inspection service.

In addition to Montana, FSIS has signed agreements with Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

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