Food Safety and Inspection (FSIS) program gives Vermont agriculture businesses access to new markets
Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the State of Vermont have finalized an agreement to allow certain state-inspected meat and poultry processors to ship their products across state lines.
“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 Governor Scott. “The pandemic has underscored the value of regionally produced products and this program will strengthen these new supply chains while supporting Vermont businesses.”
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) oversees the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program which expands business opportunities for state-inspected meat and poultry establishments by permitting certain state-inspected plants that comply with federal inspection requirements to ship their products across state borders.
“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 Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “We believe this agreement could add new businesses under state inspection, growing our economy and providing jobs.”
The approval process is comprehensive and is carefully reviewed and approved by FSIS over several weeks. The program is limited to plants located in the 27 states that have an established Meat and Poultry Inspection Program (MPI) that ensures state plant inspections follow the same guidelines as FSIS inspections for official federal establishments.
Additionally, the state’s collection of regulatory samples, and the analytical methods and accreditation of its laboratories, must meet the same criteria as FSIS laboratories. Assigned state inspectors may remain as onsite inspectors, provided they have the same training and follow the same regulatory standards as FSIS-inspected plants.
The State of 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. 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.
Seantor Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) said: “Today’s agreement to allow interstate sales of Vermont-inspected meat and poultry is another important step toward a more resilient, equitable food system for our state and the region. By supporting new market opportunities for small-scale producers and processors, this agreement will produce jobs, strengthen our rural economy, and continue to increase demand in Vermont-grown products. As the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I was proud to support the creation this program in the 2008 Farm Bill to address the barriers that corporate consolidation have placed on smaller-scale, independent farmers and ranchers across the country, many of whom cannot access federally inspected plants. The current pandemic has once again illustrated the fragility and inequities of that system. This agreement is another step toward reversing that trend, and I’m pleased that Vermont continues to lead the way.”
The CIS program was created by the 2008 Farm Bill and FSIS has since signed agreements with Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin. For more information about CIS, visit www.fsis.usda.gov/cis.
Source: Montpelier, Vt. – Governor 8.11.2020