WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the state of Arkansas signed a cooperative agreement which will permit state inspection of meat products produced for shipment in the state.

Arkansas joins 28 other states in the implementation of the state meat and poultry inspection (MPI) program.

FSIS said that the state inspection program must develop, administer and enforce requirements “at least equal to” those under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

“Today’s announcement with Arkansas will help strengthen our nation’s food system and help prevent supply chain bottlenecks,” said USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Sandra Eskin. “This program is especially helpful to small meat and poultry processors in building their local and state marketplaces.”

FSIS will provide up to 50% of the program’s operating funds as well as training. In states with MPI programs, establishments have the option to apply for federal or state inspection. However, products produced under state inspection are limited to intrastate commerce unless the producing establishment participates in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.

States are key FSIS partners and formal working relationships are reflected in cooperative agreements between FSIS and state agencies. 

FSIS said that MPI programs inspect about 1,900 small and very small meat and poultry establishments in the United States. 

The agency provides guidance to state MPI programs under these agreements, reviews each state MPI program and its requirements and activities at least annually. It also allocates approximately $60 million annually to support the state MPI programs currently operating.