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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Oregon invests $9 million to become one of 29 states approved to inspect meat

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By legislative action, Oregon is putting up $9 million for the Oregon Department of Agriculture to conduct state meat inspections.

Oregon’s State Inspection Program meets the same regulatory safeguards that USDA requires. Before the Oregon State Inspection Program was officially sanctioned by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), all meat for wholesale distribution had to come from federal inspection sources.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek said the $9 million appropriation will fund state meat inspections for the next two years. “This funding adds critical capacity for local certified meat processing to aid businesses and farm owners across Oregon,” Kotek said.  “I look forward to seeing this allocation’s positive impact on Oregon’s local economy.”

The agreements are part of USDA’s commitment to supporting local and regional food systems and more resilient supply chains.

Under the cooperative agreements, the state inspection program must develop, administer, and enforce requirements “at least equal to” those implemented under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Sandra Eskin said, “This program benefits small meat and poultry processors in building their local and state marketplaces.”

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reached cooperative agreements with Oregon and Arkansas in 2022, under which their state inspection programs may inspect meat products produced for shipment within the state. Oregon was the 28th state to obtain FSIS approval, and Arkansas was the 29th.

 FSIS has signed state inspection agreements with Arkansas 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. 

Lauren Henderson, acting director of Oregon’s agriculture department, says a state meat inspection program has been on her “bucket list” since the 1980s.

Oregon’s Inspection program covers the slaughter and processing of:

Exotic species as defined in the rule

The slaughter and processing of poultry and rabbits are not covered at this time.

Except for custom-exempt slaughtering, the Federal Meat Inspection Act requires all amenable species, such as cattle, swine, sheep, and goats, to be slaughtered under continuous FSIS inspection. 

The processing of meat and poultry products for wholesale sales is also often subject to continuous USDA inspection.

Under the new State Meat Inspection Program, businesses that operate and sell within Oregon can now sell state-inspected meat products in Oregon just like federal plants. For example, small businesses can now provide customers with inspected meat products and not rely on federally inspected plants to process the meat.

Most food processing establishments that slaughter, process, or sell meat products must have some ODA Food Safety license. Licensing does not change under the State Meat Inspection Program. Additional licensing is not required if a license already covers operations. 

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