Small Plant News: Volume 7, Number 2
- Cooperative Interstate Shipment – Providing Opportunities for States and Small Plants
- Getting Started in the CIS Program
- Commonly Asked Questions and Answers
By Natasha Williams
The Cooperative Interstate Shipment idea first emerged 6 years ago with the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill. The objective was for the Federal Government to create greater business opportunities for small plants in the meat and poultry business.
Now, the idea has blossomed into the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Program, which gives State-inspected establishments the ability to ship products outside of State lines, which was previously prohibited.
The turnkey is that the participating States responsible for inspecting these plants enforce the standards of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) under the oversight of FSIS. State inspectors assigned to CIS plants must go through mandatory FSIS training.
FSIS will reimburse at least 60 percent of the costs that participating States incur.
According to FSIS Directive 5740.1, “Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program,” meat and poultry products would bear the official USDA mark of inspection, a seal recognized around the world as a symbol of food safety. A small plant entering into a State CIS agreement could open markets that were previously unattainable.
CIS complements the USDA “Know Your Farmer; Know Your Food” initiative, which emphasizes to consumers the importance of supporting local growers and producers. It also blends well with the ongoing locavore movement, an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, and produced locally, which chefs and home cooks around the country have embraced.
Currently, Indiana, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, have a CIS agreement with FSIS. To date, State officials are very supportive of the CIS Program and are looking to expand the number of plants participating in their jurisdictions.
Cindy Klug, Director of Wisconsin’s Meat Safety and Inspection Bureau, explained how a CIS agreement benefits plants in her State. “Our first plant’s production almost tripled,” she said. “It’s as though the establishments advance into this next level of business [under CIS].”
To participate in the CIS program, a State must be operating a program that has been found to be at least equal to the Federal program. There are 27 States that have established and maintain such a program.
Under the “at least equal to” program, plants can only sell product within their respective borders. Selling to a neighboring State would be strictly off limits, even if it was only across the river or just down the highway. CIS gives plants the ability to sell their products across State lines without requiring Federal inspection.
There are certain eligibility qualifications that must be met for CIS selection. State-inspected establishments must employ 25 or fewer employees; be in compliance with all requirements under the State inspection program; and be in compliance with all Federal requirements under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, Poultry Products Inspection Act, and their implementing regulations.
If you’re interested in CIS, but your State doesn’t have a current CIS agreement, then what should you do?
Dr. Michael Hockman, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Meat Inspection Division, recommends first contacting your State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) Agency.
“We conducted a survey of licensed establishments that desired the CIS Program. We received 34 responses, with 15 plants applying for selection,” he said. “Currently, we have seven plants operating under the program and will have five additional plants operating this year. This program is great because it gives establishments the option to expand their market.”
For more information regarding the CIS Program and how to get your State involved, contact the Small Plant Help Desk at (877) 374-7435 or Infosource@fsis.usda.gov.
By Keith Payne
If you’re an owner of a State-inspected facility and interested in participating in the CIS program, where do you start?
The first thing you’ll need to do is apply through the Agency that administers the State Meat and Poultry Inspection program. If your State hasn’t created a CIS application already, then it will have to develop the process that plants must follow in order to participate in the program.
After an application is completed, then the State will evaluate your submission to determine whether to recommend you for CIS. The factors it evaluates include a review of your food safety system, your facility, and whether you employ fewer than 25 employees on average.
If you qualify for entrance to the program — and the State is able and willing to provide the necessary inspection services to your plant — then it will recommend your establishment for CIS.
The State will then submit its recommendation to the respective FSIS District Office that has jurisdiction over your State. If there is no prior CIS agreement in place with FSIS, then your State must request one through the FSIS District Office.
After a CIS agreement is in place and your plant has been accepted into the program, you’ll need to fulfill the following in order to demonstrate compliance with all the requirements under the Federal Acts. A company must:
- Meet the Federal regulatory sanitation performance standards established in Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 416.1 through 416.5;
- Submit labels to FSIS’ Selected Establishment Coordinator (within the Office of Field Operations),who will forward the labels to the FSIS Labeling and Program Delivery Staff for review, unless those labels are eligible for generic approval;
- Obtain the same water source and sewage system approval that FSIS requires for federally regulated establishments;
- Develop a written Standard Operating Procedure for Sanitation that complies with 9 CFR, parts 416.11through 416.16;and
- Develop a written hazard analysis and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan that complies with 9 CFR, Part 417.
These criteria reflect the standards that federally regulated establishments are required to meet to obtain a Federal grant of inspection under 9 CFR, Part 304 and 9 CFR Part 381. Therefore, the same rule applies to State plants that want to be in the CIS Program. If you do not meet all of these requirements, then you are not in compliance with all Federal standards and you will not be selected for the program.
For further information about getting started, contact the Small Plant Help Desk at (877) 374-7435 or contact your respective State Meat and Poultry Inspection Program Director listed in the following table.
Issac C. Barrett Jr.
Tel: (334) 240-7210
Tel: (207) 287-7512
Clyde B. Hoskins
Tel: (803) 788-8747
Tel: (602) 542-6398
Tel: (651) 201-6225
Tel: (605) 773-3321
Tel: (302) 698-4545
Richard A. Benton
Tel: (601) 359-1191
Tel: (512) 834-6760
Tel: (404) 656-3673
Tel: (573) 751-3377
Tel: (801) 538-7117
Tel: (217) 782-6684
Tel: (406) 444-5293
Tel: (802) 828-2426
Tel: (317) 544.2402
Tel: (919) 707-3180
Tel: (804) 786-4569
Tel: (515) 281-5597
Tel: (701) 328-4762
Robert E. Pitts
Tel: (304) 558-2206
Tel: (785) 564-6776
Tel: (614) 728-6260
Tel: (608) 224-4729
Tel: (225) 922-1358
Tel: (405) 522-6119
Tel: (307) 777-6587
Q. Can an establishment that is in full compliance with all requirements of the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Program voluntarily leave the program and conduct custom-exempt or retail-exempt activities?
A. Yes. An establishment that is in full compliance with all requirements of the CIS may voluntarily leave the CIS Program and conduct custom exempt or retail exempt activities if the establishment conducts operations that qualify for such an exemption under 9 CFR 303.1 or 9 CFR 381.10.
Small Plant News
Editor in Chief: Daniel P. Puzo
Editor: Keith Payne
Managing Editor: Jane Johnson, DVM
Production Manager: Sally Fernandez
Creative Director: Gordon E. Wilson
Design: Duane Robinson
Office of Outreach, Employee Education and Training Assistant Administrator: Michael G. Watts
Small Plant News, USDA/FSIS, Patriots Plaza III, Rm. 9-267A, Mailstop 3778,
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250. (800) 336-3747; E-mail: SmallPlantNews@fsis.usda.gov
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