Small meat producers in Indiana have a better chance to sell their products in other states thanks to a new partnership between the state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Last week, the USDA and the state began a program in which state inspectors are allowed to give the USDA’s seal of approval for meat and poultry from small producers to be sold across state lines.
“It‘s called the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Agreement,” said Dr. Bret Marsh, state veterinarian with the Department of Animal Health. “We have for a number of years had to be at least equal to the federal inspection program, and with plants inspected by this program, they have to be identical.”
The program was part of the 2008 farm bill, but it took several years to get it off the ground because of training employees and getting lab procedure up to USDA standards.
Marsh says only a few small meat and poultry producers are interested in the program right now.
“My sense is we will have more plants become interested in it later, particularly those near the state lines that would have more opportunities to sell in a neighboring state,” Marsh said.
He says the federal government is picking up more of the cost of the new inspection process, paying for 60 percent, with the state picking up the rest.