Before enactment of the 2008 Farm Bill, the Federal Meat Inspection Act and Poultry Products Inspection Act prohibited selling state-inspected meat and poultry products (beef, poultry, pork, lamb and goat) across state lines. This regulation was in sharp contrast to other state-inspected food products (milk, dairy products, fruit, vegetables, fish and shellfish), which are freely marketed across the country.Furthermore, meat and poultry products from 34 foreign countries can also be freely shipped and sold anywhere in the United States. Even “non-amenable” products – such as venison, bison, pheasant, quail, rabbit and others – can be shipped across state lines without restriction even though these products are normally regulated by state inspection programs.
The federal restrictions on interstate shipment of meat and poultry was a burden on small farmers and ranchers, who may not live near small-scale federally-inspected meat and poultry plants and are often shut out of large-scale federally-inspected plants, because they do not have contracts with the processors or because they deliver relatively small lots at one time for processing.
Twenty-five states currently have state inspection programs for meat and poultry and two states have only meat inspection programs. They serve more than 2,000 state-inspected meat processors, which are mostly small, family-owned businesses often providing processing services for smaller-scale farms or for specialized, niche markets such as grass-fed beef or pasture-raised pork.
2008 Farm Bill Changes
A new provision allows for the interstate shipment of meat and poultry and their products from certain small state-inspected packing and processing establishments.
The new provision does not allow for the interstate shipment of all meat and poultry that have been inspected by state agencies under state law. The new system creates a hybrid federal-state process, with the following features:
Section 11015 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (FCEA) of 2008 amends the Federal Meat Inspection Act by adding a new Title V – “Inspections by Federal and State Agencies” – to be codified at 21 U.S.C. Section 683 and amends the Poultry Products Inspection Act by adding a new Section 31, to be codified at 21 U.S.C. Section 472.
Funding for implementation of the new hybrid program will be a function of the annual agriculture appropriations bill. Some of the functions included in the new provision are already provided for in current appropriations, but others will represent new additional spending. The new state coordinators and new inspection training division in particular will require enhanced appropriations in the coming years.
The USDA issued final regulations for the program that took effect in July 2011. In August 2012, USDA announced that Ohio is the first program approved for participation in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program. The Farm Bill requires that the U.S. Government Accountability Office conduct an audit within three to five years after implementation of the program.
USDA website for the Food Safety Inspection Service
A listing of the 27 states with state inspection programs
FSIS office locations and phone numbers
More information about Interstate Sales of State-Inspected Meat and Poultry from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture can be found here