2020 Report on Guidance and Outreach to Small and Very Small Meat Processors
Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, Oregon State University
This report was authorized by Congress in section 12107 of the 2018 Farm Bill. Its purpose is to assess the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) interactions with small and very small meat processors in the following three areas: outreach, information tools, and responsiveness. Small and very small meat processors are very different from large processors in fundamental ways, not just their scale of operation. These differences have implications for the effectiveness of FSIS communication with SVS plants.
Assessments of outreach, information tools, and responsiveness were conducted by compiling feedback from SVS processors about their experiences with the FSIS and comparing those experiences to FSIS policy and its recent efforts in the relevant topic areas. Processor feedback was collected via round table discussions, surveys, interviews, and key informant reviews of early versions of this report.
Key recommendations include:
- Continuing to find ways for small and very small processors to interact and share experiences directly with high- level FSIS leadership Standardizing the information provided by FSIS across plat forms, documents, and personnel to eliminate conflicting or confusing information.
- Studying inspection decisions and enforcement actions across circuits, districts, and inspectors to identify potential inconsistencies or biases. Frequently updating information sources to eliminate out -of -date information.
- Upgrading information access tools
- Providing explicit benchmarks and procedural guidance for meeting regulatory requirements with the time and financial constraints of SVS plants in mind.
- Closely examining humane handling regulatory procedures for small and very small plants.
FSIS has made an effort in recent years to collect small and very small processor feedback through roundtable listening sessions. Also, in the last few months, FSIS has made new guidance documents and webinar resources targeted at issues faced by small plants. These efforts are appreciated, and we hope that they represent a renewed effort by the Food Safety and Inspection Service to connect with their small and very small plant stakeholders that will continue well into the future.