Buckeye Farm News
A new U.S. Department of Agriculture program that would allow state-inspected meat to cross state lines is expected to have a big impact in Ohio.
Ohio has the second highest number of state-inspected meat processing facilities in the United States, with only Wisconsin having more, said Adam Sharp, Ohio Farm Bureau’s senior director of legislative and regulatory policy.
Last month, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced it would publish proposed regulations to implement a new voluntary cooperative program under which selected state-inspected facilities would be eligible to ship meat and poultry products across state lines. According to American Farm Bureau, there are nearly 2,000 state-inspected meat and poultry plants in 27 states.
Federal laws prohibit state-inspected meat products (beef, poultry, pork, lamb and goat) from being sold in interstate commerce but other state-inspected products such as milk, dairy products, fruit, vegetables and fish are allowed to be marketed freely throughout the United States.
“The irony is that meat products shipped from other countries are allowed in the U.S. if they pass inspections but state-inspected meat can’t go across state boundaries. So Brazilian beef can enter Pennsylvania but Ohio beef can’t,” Sharp said. “Farm Bureau has been a strong advocate for allowing interstate shipment of meat.”
The proposal, created in the 2008 Farm Bill, is part of USDA’s new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, which seeks to better connect consumers with local producers. It affects state-inspected plants with 25 or fewer employees.
“This new cooperative interstate shipment program will provide new economic opportunities for many small and very small meat and poultry establishments whose markets are currently limited,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande.
Under the proposed rule, selected facilities would receive inspection services from federally trained and supervised state inspection personnel who would verify that the facilities meet all federal food safety requirements. Meat and poultry products produced under the program will receive a USDA mark of inspection, allowing the products to be shipped across state lines.
“This is something that Farm Bureau has been pushing for a long time, and it is one of our priority issues,” Sharp said.
USDA is accepting comments about the proposed rule until Nov. 16.
Advisory Council Questions: Will you or someone you know benefit from this change in policy? If yes, please describe what new opportunities will become available for the livestock and meat processing industry. Share your answers on the Ohio Farm Bureau Advisory Discussion Board.