The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) and the state of Arkansas have finalized a cooperative agreement, under which the state inspection program may inspect meat products produced for shipment within the state. Under the cooperative agreement, the state inspection program must develop, administer, and enforce requirements that are “at least equal to” those imposed under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

USDA believes that the agreement with Arkansas will help strengthen the U.S. food system and prevent supply chain bottlenecks. The program also aims to assist small meat and poultry processors that are building their local and state marketplaces.

According to FSIS, State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs include approximately 1,900 small and very small meat and poultry establishments inspected under state MPI programs. FSIS provides guidance to state MPI programs under cooperative agreements, reviews each state MPI program annually at minimum, and provides approximately $60 million each year to support the state MPI programs that are currently operating.

Including Arkansas, 29 states now have state MPI programs. In states with inspection programs, establishments have the option to apply for federal or state inspection, but product produced under state inspection is limited to intrastate commerce. FSIS provides up to 50 percent of the state’s operating funds, as well as training and other assistance. At present, FSIS has signed state inspection agreements with: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.