The Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program, which formed part of the 2008 Farm Bill, allows small processors who are inspected by state (rather than federal) inspectors to sell their products to buyers in other states for the first time. Previously, businesses with 25 employees or fewer were unable to use federal regulations or marks of inspection and could therefore only sell to buyers within the same state.
Ohio will be the first state to be able to take advantage of the programme.
A statement from the USDA said: “The co-operative interstate shipment programme will expand economic opportunities for America’s small meat and poultry processors, strengthen state and local economies, and increase consumer access to safe, locally-produced food.”
Merrigan said: “This agreement allows a small processor in Ohio to sell products to neighbours in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, and beyond.
“Expanding market opportunities for meat from local processors makes these small businesses more viable, while also ensuring that participating establishments have robust food safety systems in place to produce safe food for consumers.”
Meat inspection programmes vary between states, but the USDA is expected to publish a directive explaining how states and small businesses can join the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program.