Expanded Opportunities for Montana Meat Processors to Ship Product Out of State

by Colter Brown

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the State of Montana have finalized a Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) agreement, which provides an opportunity for selected state-inspected meat processors to ship their products across state lines. Montana is only the tenth state in the nation where state-inspected plants can ship product outside the state.

“With expanded opportunities for Montana meat processors, we’re helping add value and get Montana’s superior beef, poultry, pork, and lamb to market throughout the United States,” Gov. Gianforte said. “My hat’s off to Executive Officer Mike Honeycutt and his team at the Montana Department of Livestock for working with USDA to expand capacity for our meat processors.”

Under the leadership of Executive Officer Mike Honeycutt, and with funding approved by the 2021 Montana Legislature, the Montana Department of Livestock has been working with USDA since August 2021 to secure the state’s participation in the program.

“The addition of the Cooperative Interstate Shippers program to the Department of Livestock’s services is a tremendous win for Montana’s livestock producers and processors,” Honeycutt said. “Following the governor’s emphasis on growing value-added agricultural processing in his Montana Comeback Plan and significant financial investments made by the state to help meat processors grow their processing capacity, the CIS program will now give state inspected processors an option to expand and grow their markets beyond our state borders.”

The CIS program was launched in 2012 under Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack after being authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. The CIS program permits selected state-inspected establishments that comply with federal inspection requirements to ship their product in interstate commerce.

“This announcement is part of USDA’s commitment to build more and better markets, a more resilient supply chain and better food system, and to increase competition in agricultural markets across America,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety.

“USDA is working with states to ensure they have the tools and resources necessary to expand existing capacity and thrive for many decades to come. The Cooperative Interstate Shipment program provides an excellent opportunity for small meat and poultry processors to build their local and regional marketplaces, while ensuring the safety of the meat and poultry products they produce,” she said.

The CIS program is limited to states that have established a Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) program for products to be shipped solely within the state. To be eligible to participate in the CIS program, state MPI programs must meet a number of criteria to demonstrate that the inspection that it provides to state-inspected plants will be the “same as” the inspection that FSIS provides to official federal establishments. For instance, a state must demonstrate that it has the necessary legal authority to administer and enforce requirements that are the same as the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) and applicable regulations. In addition, the state must collect regulatory samples at the same frequency as federal inspectors and use the same analytical methods at laboratories that meet the same level of accreditation as the FSIS laboratories.

The assigned state inspectors may remain as the establishment’s onsite inspectors, provided they have the same training and inspect the plant under the “same as” regulatory standards as their federal counterparts in FSIS-inspected establishments. FSIS provides ongoing oversight of the CIS program to ensure that participating states maintain and operate their “same as” programs in a manner that complies with all applicable federal statutes and regulations and follows FSIS directives and notices. FSIS reimburses the states for 60% of their costs associated with providing this interstate eligible inspection service.

In addition to Montana, FSIS has signed agreements with Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin. For more information about CIS, visit www.fsis.usda.gov/cis.


USDA/Office of Gov. Gianforte

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