WASHINGTON – According to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), South Dakota has joined eight other states by permitting small state-inspected meat and poultry processors to sell and ship products to customers throughout the United States as part of the Cooperative Interstate Shipment agreement (CIS). Stakeholders and lawmakers said the addition of more states to the program serves to strengthen the meat and poultry supply chain by preventing supply chain bottlenecks like those seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many federally inspected processing plants were closed or operated at limited capacities due to outbreaks of the virus.

Launched during Tom Vilsack’s first tenure as agriculture secretary in 2012 as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, the CIS permits selected state-inspected meat and poultry plants that already comply with federal inspection requirements to transport products across state lines to customers across the country. The CIS agreement is available in 27 states where a Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) program is already established, and it requires states to demonstrate their inspection meets “same-as” requirements of federally inspected facilities. Besides South Dakota, eight other states meet the CIS requirements to date, including: Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin. USDA officials urge other states to participate in the program and the FSIS reimburses 60% of states’ costs for transitioning to interstate-compliant status. To be eligible, participating processors must employ fewer than 25 employees and participating companies must be recommended by the state.

“If we’re going to strengthen our nation’s food system and prevent supply chain bottlenecks before they occur, then we must continue to provide smaller meat processing establishments the opportunity to build their local and regional marketplaces,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA deputy undersecretary for food safety. “The Cooperative Interstate Shipment program is a little-known but powerful tool designed to diversify the marketplace for meat and poultry processors, while ensuring the safety of the meat and poultry products they produce. We want to work with other states to encourage participation in this important program.”

More information about the CIS program is available at: www.fsis.usda.gov/cis .