Wyoming declines interstate meat shipmentWritten by Christy Martinez
Although a rule allowing interstate shipment of state-inspected meat has passed the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Dean Finkenbinder of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s Consumer Health Services Division says Wyoming will not be a part of the program.
By participating in the voluntary, cooperative interstate shipment program, select establishments would have the option to ship meat and poultry products, bearing an official USDA mark of inspection, across state lines. Until now, only federally inspected meat and poultry was allowed into interstate commerce.
“Wyoming hasn’t applied for the program, and, to my knowledge, only four states have,” says Finkenbinder. “Wyoming doesn’t plan to apply, mainly because the plant would have to be a federal plant, and we’d have to purchase computers and all the equipment from USDA to make the inspection in that plant, and then there would be a federal employee to oversee all the training and to evaluate the program, and there would also be a federal stamp that would have to be used on the meat product, so it would no longer look like it was coming from a state meat plant.”
To become part of the program, the state would have to apply with the USDA for the interstate meat shipment program, then any interested plant would have to apply through the state, and the state would go to the district office for the region. The state inspector in that plant would then have to go through training for federal enforcement of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and the plant would then have to meet all the federal standards, and be “the same as,” instead of “at least equal to,” which is the current standard for state meat plants.
“When they say ‘same as,’ that means we have to follow the rules and regulations according to how the feds do it. With the state program the way it is, we have a little leeway. As long as we maintain food safety we don’t have to follow the particular requirement specifically the way it’s stated. With the interstate meat shipment, we wouldn’t be able to do that,” he explains.
Finkenbinder says it’s that cost, equipment and federal oversight that will keep Wyoming out of the program.
“While we do have federal oversight now, it’s not direct, and there isn’t a federal person in our state meat plants,” he explains. “If one went to the federal program, we’d also have to have a separate accounting system for that particular program.”
“Our state inspected meat plants do a really good job, and I think if they would have allowed the state plants to ship interstate as they are now, they would have had a lot more participation in the program,” adds Finkenbinder.