The Iowa Department of Agriculture finalized a Cooperative Interstate Shipment agreement with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service on May 20. This means state-inspected meat and poultry processors in Iowa are one step closer to being able to sell their products across state lines. Eligible processors can now apply for admission to the CIS program.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the important role local community meat lockers play in the food supply chain," says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. "I’m excited for these meat processors to have the opportunity to grow their businesses, move more products and access new markets. It also gives consumers more access to Iowa-raised and processed meat."
More markets for Iowa meat
State-inspected meat processors are smaller than their federally inspected counterparts but are held to equal standards. 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. Individual livestock producers cannot apply to the CIS program, but they can sell their meat and poultry products across state lines if processed at a CIS-approved facility.
State of Iowa meat inspectors visit state-inspected facilities every day they process products that bear the mark of inspection. State meat inspectors examine the livestock, quality of the meat, facility sanitation and record keeping so consumers can have confidence in the meat and poultry products they buy. CIS facilities will also receive periodic visits from Food Safety and Inspection Service officials to ensure they are operating in compliance with federal guidelines.
Iowa is the seventh state to enter into a CIS agreement with FSIS. To date, there are 68 official, state-inspected facilities in Iowa that are eligible to apply to the CIS program. Meat processors interested in applying for the CIS program should visit iowaagriculture.gov or call 515-281-3338. A complete list of approved CIS processors is available on the FSIS website. Iowa plants will be added to this list as they apply and are accepted into the CIS program.
“The Iowa Department of Agriculture began this effort to get our state a CIS agreement with USDA,” Naig says. “We’ve been working on this for a while. There are 68 meat lockers in Iowa that could participate in this program. It would allow them to use the USDA-inspected label on their products and allow them to sell meat across state lines.”
It’s an opportunity for smaller meat lockers and processors to expand their market, he notes. “Iowa has a great reputation for its meat products. It will be good to allow those folks who often buy locally from Iowa livestock producers to be able to process that meat locally in our communities, and then be able to sell that product all across the country. State-inspected meat lockers in Iowa who are interested in this need to contact the Iowa Department of Ag’s Meat and Poultry Bureau, who will work with the meat lockers to get this going.”