The Iowa Department of Agriculture has applied for a Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) agreement with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The program will allow participating state-inspected meat and poultry processors to distribute their products outside of Iowa.
“We are pursuing an agreement with USDA as part of our continued commitment to expanding markets for Iowa products,” says Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig. “This program can open new markets for Iowa livestock producers and meat processors, and would give more consumers the opportunity to choose Iowa meat products.”
State-inspected meat processors are smaller than their federally inspected counterparts but are held to equal standards. “The new program would allow our state-inspected meat lockers to sell product outside of Iowa. Currently, only federally inspected meat lockers can do that,” Naig says.
Opportunities for smaller processors
“CIS will provide many opportunities for small, state of Iowa-inspected meat plants,” says Joe Cordray, Iowa State University Extension meat specialist. “It will allow Iowa’s small plants to take advantage of internet sales and other marketing opportunities outside of Iowa. It will also enable the small plants to work with Iowa’s many local livestock producers who want to sell their products out of state. CIS provides an excellent opportunity to stimulate the economy in rural Iowa communities.”
Iowa’s small meat processors generate $1.5 million in total economic output each year, along with $596,000 in labor income and about 15 jobs for every $1 million in sales, according to a study by ISU economist David Swenson.
Permission may start in 2020
To qualify for the CIS program, a meat processor must have fewer than 25 full-time employees and comply with all federal food safety, sanitation and facility regulations.
The Iowa Department of Ag recently submitted a formal application to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is the first in a series of steps required to finalize the CIS agreement. Naig says the changes will likely go into effect in 2020.
“Iowa has a great reputation for quality meat processing and production,” Naig says. “This would give our smaller processors, local lockers and livestock producers a way to increase demand for their products. They could sell Iowa meat online. They would also be able to work with distributors and get Iowa-produced meat from the smaller processors into the major grocery store chains. Consumers outside of Iowa will be looking for these quality Iowa products in the meat case at their favorite stores.”
Visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website to learn more about the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.