WASHINGTON – After a reviewing and approval process lasting almost a year, some state-inspected meat and poultry processors in Iowa will be allowed to ship products across state lines, a practice that is traditionally reserved for federally inspected plants or state-inspected plants following specific federal protocols. The Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) agreement, announced May 22, was finalized by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Iowa state officials.

According to the USDA, the program is limited to include plants in 27 states where a Meat and Poultry Inspection Program (MPI) is established. Plants in these states are required to comply with inspection standards that are regarded “at least equal to” those required by federally inspected facilities. USDA said the interstate shipment program “promotes the expansion of business opportunities for state-inspected meat and poultry establishments.”

Since the program began, as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, plants in Maine, Indiana, Ohio, North Dakota, Missouri and Wisconsin are eligible as part of signed agreements between the state and the FSIS. 

USDA clarified that assigned state inspectors under the “at least equal to” program will continue to work  as the plant’s onsite inspectors, provided they have the same training and inspect the plant under “the same” regulatory standards as their federal counterparts in FSIS-inspected plants.

“FSIS provides on-going 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,” USDA said. “FSIS also verifies that selected establishments in the CIS participating state remain eligible to participate in the CIS program.”