DES MOINES – State-inspected meat and poultry processors in Iowa are one step closer to being able to sell their products across state lines.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig has finalized a Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Eligible processors can apply for admission to the CIS program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the important role that local community meat lockers play in the food supply chain,” Naig said. “I am excited for these meat processors to have the opportunity to grow their businesses, move more products and access new markets. It also gives consumers more access to Iowa-raised and processed meat.”

State-inspected meat processors are held to equal standards despite being smaller than their federally-inspected counterparts. To qualify for the CIS program, a meat processor must have fewer than 25 full-time employees and comply with all federal food safety, sanitation and facility regulations.

Individual livestock producers can not apply to the CIS program, but can sell their meat and poultry products across state lines if they are processed at a CIS facility.

State of Iowa meat inspectors visit state-inspected facilities every day they process products that bear the mark of inspection. State meat inspectors examine the livestock, quality of the meat, facility sanitation and record-keeping so consumers can have confidence in the meat and poultry products they buy.

CIS facilities will also receive periodic visits from USDA FSIS officials to ensure they are operating in compliance with federal guidelines.

Iowa is the seventh state to enter into a CIS agreement with the USDA FSIS joining Indiana, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin. To date, there are 68 official state-inspected facilities in Iowa who are eligible to apply to the CIS program.

Meat processors who are interested in applying for the CIS program should visit iowaagriculture.gov or call 515-281-3338. The complete list of approved CIS establishments is available on the USDA FSIS website.

Iowa plants will be added to this list as they apply and are accepted into the CIS program.

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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