As of Thursday, Oregon becomes the first state on the West Coast approved to operate a state meat inspection program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) just finalized a cooperative agreement with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to launch the program aimed at providing economic opportunity and resilience for Oregon’s livestock producers.
The agreement grants ODA the authority to inspect meat products produced for shipment within the state. Under the agreement, Oregon’s program must develop, administer, and enforce requirements “at least equal to” those imposed under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).
“I am so proud of our state, our partners, and the many ODA staff that helped make Oregon’s State Meat Inspection Program a reality,” said ODA Director Alexis Taylor. “Two years ago, in the middle of the pandemic, Oregonians and the ag industry came to us when they couldn’t move their meat products due to a shortage of inspection services. After much hard work, collaboration, and determination, we designed a program that creates additional opportunities for producers and processors to grow and satisfy local demand.”
Federal law requires that meat sold for retail/wholesale markets be processed at a federal or equivalent state inspected facility. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, federally inspected facilities were booked months or years out, meaning Oregon meat producers couldn’t get their products into the market. Oregon’s cooperative agreement with USDA FSIS will give ODA the authority to inspect with oversight by USDA FSIS. Like the USDA, an ODA inspection will ensure compliance with construction, sanitation, food safety, and humane handling regulations.
The state’s program is not meant to compete with USDA. Instead, it complements the federal program and increases the state’s capacity by supporting smaller, local businesses to enable them to produce, process and ship statewide. Existing USDA inspected facilities may choose to stay with the federal inspection program or enroll in Oregon’s program if it is beneficial to the business. ODA continues to work to serve the changing needs of Oregon’s diverse agricultural and food sectors.
According to the cooperative agreement, USDA will reimburse the state 50 percent of the program costs. Inspections during normal business hours will be conducted free of charge. Visit ODA online for more information on Oregon’s state meat inspection program and answers to frequently asked questions.
With the addition of Oregon, 28 states now have state meat inspection programs and for more information about state inspection programs nationwide, go online.