National Advisory Committee on
Meat and Poultry Inspection
June 5 - 6, 2002
Farm Bill Provision on Interstate Shipment of State-Inspected
On May 13,2002, the President signed the Farm Security and Rural
Investment Act of 2002 (Farm Bill) into law (P.L. 107-171). The
conference report accompanying the Farm Bill contains a provision
directing the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) to review State meat
and poultry inspection systems and report the findings to Congress in
the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) annual report to
Congress. The report is also to include guidance about changes the State
systems might expect if the statutory prohibition on interstate shipment
of State-inspected product is removed. FSIS is charged with overseeing
State meat and poultry inspection programs and is, therefore, concerned
about how to best respond to the conferees’ request with available
The specifics of concern in the Farm Bill’s conference report
provision on interstate shipment follow:
- It directs the Secretary to do a full review of State inspection
systems and to include the review a report on the review in FSIS’
annual report to Congress.
- It directs the Secretary to include in the review guidance on
changes the State systems might expect if the prohibition against
interstate shipment of State-inspected product is removed.
- The conference report does not subject this provision to
appropriations, so it must be completed even if Congress does not
provide FSIS with additional funds.
The conference report language is broader than the language proposed
by the Senate, which would have required comprehensive reviews of each
of the 27 State programs. FSIS seeks advice on how best to conduct the
requested review in light of Agency goals and resources.
In contrast to the 6,500 federally inspected facilities, the
approximately 3,000 slaughtering and
processing plants in the 27 States with a USDA-approved inspection
program account for only about 7% of all meat and poultry products
produced in the United States. Details on the current structure of the
State inspection programs follow.
- Under the State-Federal Cooperative Inspection Program, States can
choose to have a State-Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and
the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA),
only meat and poultry products inspected by the Federal
government may be sold in interstate commerce. State-inspected meat and
poultry products can only be sold within the State.
- If the Secretary of Agriculture determines (after consultation with
the State governor) that a State has not developed or is not enforcing
a State inspection program with requirements at least equal to those
imposed by Federal law, USDA takes over the inspection
responsibilities in that State.
- FSIS places each of the 27 State inspection programs on a 3-5 year
rotational cycle, with 6-8 programs under review each year.
- Annually, FSIS requires each State to conduct an assessment of its
inspection program and submits the results to
The debate over interstate shipment has gone on for well over 25
years. Besides the Farm Bill, Congress' most recent discussion of the
issue took place during the fiscal year (FY) 2002 appropriations
process. The conference report to the FY 2002 Agriculture
Appropriations bill (P.L. 107-76)
included a provision on interstate shipment. The details of the
conference report provision follow.
- The conference report noted that the stringency of some State
inspection standards and programs for meat and poultry products is
equal to that of the Federal government and suggested that these States
share a desire to ship their products interstate.
- The conference report also suggested that the Department consider
the development of a limited pilot project, involving the State of
Ohio, which would allow for the interstate shipment of State-inspected
product. They directed the Department to issue a report to the House
and Senate Appropriations Committees before the FY 2003 appropriations
hearings began, regarding the feasibility of the proposed project,
including legal requirements and the planned design. FSIS
delivered this report on March 25,2002.
- The Agency's response to the FY 2002 appropriations directive
explains that the regulations promulgated under the FMIA and the PPIA
allow the Administrator to waive, for limited periods, any provisions
of the regulations to permit experimentation so that new procedures,
equipment or processing techniques may be tested to facilitate definite
improvements. However, the regulations note that the Administrator
cannot waive regulations if the waiver would conflict with the purposes
or provisions of the FMIA or the PPIA. The report found that the FMIA
and PPIA clearly state that only federally-inspected products may enter
interstate commerce, thereby requiring Congress to amend the statutes
before FSIS could implement such a pilot. The report concluded that
FSIS cannot legally conduct a pilot program to allow the interstate
shipment of State-inspected meat and poultry products until the
statutes are amended.
USDA has also shown interest in pursuing interstate shipment
authority, In 1999, USDA transmitted a draft bill to Congress, which
would have amended the FMIA and PPIA to permit the interstate shipment
of State-inspected meat and poultry. On November 19, 1999, Senators Tom
Daschle (D-SD) and Omn Hatch (R-UT) introduced this bill as S. 1988, the
New Markets for State- Inspected Meat Act of 1999. This bill was based
on a concept paper submitted to the National Advisory Committee on Meat
and Poultry Inspection at a 1997 public meeting. The details of the bill
- S. 1988 required State programs to implement and enforce all
Federal laws and regulations governing meat and poultry inspection.
- The bill also provided the Secretary the authority to reimburse up
to 60 percent (instead of the current 50 percent) of a State's cost of
meeting Federal inspection requirements.
- As a result, State-inspected product would receive the Federal mark
of inspection and be permitted to move in interstate commerce.
- On April 6,2000, then-Deputy Secretary Rominger testified before
the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in support
of S. 1988. The bill was carefully crafted to gain the support of
industry, consumers, and Congress. However, when Senator Tom Harkin
(D-IA) sought to attach language requiring performance standards,
industry withdrew its support of the bill. The bill died in Committee.
- FSIS supports the concept of interstate shipment, but is concerned
about expending significant Agency resources on the concept before the
necessary authorizing legislation is passed. Because the review
provision is not subject to appropriations, how can FSIS best use its
limited food safety resources to meet the mandate?
- What kind of "guidance" would be useful to States in advance of
legislation authorizing the interstate shipment of State-inspected
- The National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection last
visited this issue in 1997. Since then, much has changed in regard to
inspection -- notably, the full
implementation of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point
Systems final rule. In light of recent events, does the committee have
any additional concerns with the concept of interstate shipment of
State-inspected product or with its implementation?
Office of the Administrator
Room 33 1 -E Whitten Building
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700