The USDA’s Federal Safety and Inspection Service recently proposed regulations that will allow certain state-inspected plants to ship meat and poultry in interstate commerce. This impressive development is part of USDA’s larger initiative, “Know Your Farmers, Know Your Food,” which seeks to develop economic opportunities within regional and local food systems. Secretary Vilsack and Under Secretary Mande are to be applauded for such a far-sighted decision, one which could have a transformational effect on independent livestock producers.
Many of the farmers in our program are located near a large metropolitan market just out-of-state. Currently these farmers must either limit their marketing to in-state buyers or travel to a federally inspected plant, which may not be the closest one. This can result in added transport stress on the animals being processed, and unnecessary hassle on the farmer. We hope that with this new regulation farmers will be able to use the closest plant and sell to the closest market – improving animal welfare, reducing emissions and opening up new markets for independent farmers.
According to the FSIS press release, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande said, “This new cooperative interstate shipment program will provide new economic opportunities for many small and very small meat and poultry establishments, whose markets are currently limited. We can provide new markets for these establishments, while maintaining the integrity of the Federal mark of inspection.” While the proposed ruling promises to open and develop these new markets, we sincerely hope that continued funding and attention is given to this program.
View the proposed regulations and submit your comments at Regulations.gov. Comments will be accepted through November 16, 2009.