Published Jul 10, 2019

New Program Will Allow State-Inspected Meat Products to be Sold Across State Lines

By Meghan Filbert

In June 2019, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) has applied for a Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) agreement with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. The program will allow participating state-inspected meat and poultry processors to distribute their products across state lines. “We are pursuing an agreement with the USDA as part of our continued commitment to expanding markets for Iowa products,” said Secretary Naig. “This program can open new markets for Iowa livestock producers and meat processors, and give more consumers the opportunity to choose Iowa meat products.” Read the news release from IDALS here.

Meat Marketing federal versus state inspected

Table listing the differences between a federally-inspected establishment and a state-inspected establishment operating under the CIS program.

State seal of inspection for ohio's cooperative interstate shipment products.

Ohio’s seal of inspection for their cooperative interstate shipment program products. Iowa’s labels will look similar.

PFI sent out a survey to some of our livestock farmers to glean information on meat processing and marketing challenges. Their thoughts were presented to the Secretary of Agriculture and IDALS prior to the Cooperative Interstate Shipment application. 18 farmers responded to this survey – citing the lack of USDA processing facilities as their largest processing barrier.

“CIS will provide many opportunities for small, State of Iowa-inspected meat plants,” said Dr. Joe Cordray, Iowa State University Extension meat specialist. “It will allow them to take advantage of internet sales and other sales opportunities outside of Iowa. It will also enable them to work with Iowa’s many local livestock producers who want to sell their products out of state. CIS provides an excellent opportunity to stimulate the economy in rural Iowa communities.”

Ty & Bobbie

Ty and Bobbie Gustafson, owners and operators of Story City Locker. Ty Gustafson, instigated and championed the adoption of the CIS program in Iowa. (Photo courtesy of Story City Locker.)

Ty Gustafson, owner of Story City Locker, instigated and championed the adoption of the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program in Iowa. Ty lists a few points for farmers to consider:

  • The Cooperative Interstate Shipment program doesn’t require any changes to labeling or scheduling. The same inspection staff is utilized and the existing labels are updated with the federal seal of inspection instead of the state of Iowa seal of inspection (see figures above).
  • All meat processors in the state have been communicated to by IDALS. Processors that are interested in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program are signed up and waiting for the process to complete with the USDA. Farmers should inquire with their local processor to see if they signed up or not to better understand that business choice.
  • Processors who are approved will undergo a federal review each quarter, with no other notable changes. This is done to ensure the State of Iowa inspection is operating “equal to” federal inspection.
  • Once the program is in place and the facilities have been approved, IDALS will update their website’s list of facilities to include the Cooperative Interstate Shipment classification. Facilities will also be listed in the UDSA’s website listing Cooperative Interstate Shipment establishments.
  • Any specific questions about a facility or the program should be directed to that facility of the IDALS office in Des Moines.

Amanda Severson, of Grand View Beef in Clarion, believes the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program is important for the future of their farm. “Right now, we have to take our animals to Minnesota to be federally inspected which we are only able to do with a few animals per year. If we could ship nationwide, we could increase our production and sales significantly. It would allow my husband and I to both work full-time on this business, and be able to leave our corporate roles. It would enable us to keep our century family farm and leave a legacy for future family members that is no longer dependent on corn and soybean commodity prices.”

PFI and our members believe the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program will help shape the future of market development for Iowa farmers, which has been continually identified as a top priority for PFI members. New and diverse markets for Iowa-raised meats will result in more livestock integration on our landscape, greater resiliency and the revival of rural communities. We thank Ty Gustafson and IDALS for moving this program forward!