Preserving Food Safety: NASDA’s Call for Federal Support in Meat and Poultry Inspection Programs

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The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) voiced a critical need during its 2024 Winter Policy Conference on Feb. 7: the reinstatement of full federal cost-share for state meat and poultry inspection programs.

Blayne Arthur, NASDA president and Oklahoma agriculture secretary, emphasized the importance of consistent and reliable funding to sustain these vital programs, stating, “To continue supporting and expanding the meat processing industry and the livestock sector, Congress and USDA must ensure consistent and reliable funding is available to sustain state meat and poultry inspection programs.”

NASDA highlighted the historical support provided by the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) cooperative agreement model, which historically covered up to the full 50% match required under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. However, recent funding reductions have impacted states adversely.

The association’s new action item urges NASDA members to advocate for a minimum 50% funding match from FSIS to state departments of agriculture and to push for increased federal appropriations to FSIS. Currently, 29 state departments of agriculture operate both state and federal meat and poultry inspection programs.

These programs play a crucial role in supporting independent meat and poultry processors. They assist small to medium-sized processors in meeting federal and state food safety regulations, ultimately ensuring the safety and integrity of the food supply chain.

In light of recent funding shortfalls, NASDA’s call to action seeks to safeguard the resilience and effectiveness of state inspection programs, crucial pillars of food safety and industry support.