WASHINGTON – Vermont became the most recent state to sign a Cooperative Interstate Shipment Agreement (CIS) with the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the US Department of Agriculture.

The agreement will allow the State of Vermont to operate a CIS program which gives certain state-inspected plants that comply with federal inspection requirements permission to ship their product in interstate commerce. FSIS has signed agreements with Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

“This addition to our meat inspection program will open up new markets outside the state, creating new opportunities for Vermont’s agricultural producers and boosting our state economy,” said Vermont Governor Phil Scott. “The pandemic has underscored the value of regionally produced products and this program will strengthen these new supply chains while supporting Vermont businesses.”

Vermont will recommend establishments for selection by FSIS for participation in the CIS program. FSIS will verify that the establishments comply with all federal requirements, including sanitation performance standards and developing written Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans.

The CIS program is limited to plants located in the 27 states that have established a Meat and Poultry Inspection Program (MPI), and establishments must employ fewer than 25 individuals, FSIS said. State MPI programs must meet several criteria to demonstrate that the inspection that it provides to state-inspected plants will be the “same as” the inspection that FSIS provides to official federal establishments.

Ongoing FSIS oversight includes verification that each CIS establishment continues to meet all federal requirements, such as submission, approval and use of FSIS-approved labels.

“The agency is excited to offer this program during these uncertain times as an option to our state-inspected establishments to expand their markets beyond Vermont’s borders,” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “We believe this agreement could add new businesses under state inspection, growing our economy and providing jobs.”