Indiana has joined Ohio, North Dakota and Wisconsin in a voluntary meat and poultry shipment program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program, funded through the 2008 farm bill, allows small and very small processors the option to ship their products across state lines for the first time. The processors participating in the program must be state-inspected, and any of their meat and poultry products being transported across state lines must bear the official USDA Mark of Inspection. According to FSIS officials, the program is designed to expand market opportunities for small meat and poultry producers and processors, strengthen state and local economies, and increase consumer access to safe and locally produced food. “This program plays an important role in expanding opportunities for local producers and small businesses, while also ensuring that a robust food safety inspection system is maintained to protect consumers,” said Brian Ronholm, USDA Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety. Any of the state-inspected establishments selected to participate in the program are required to comply with federal standards under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). The facilities receive inspection services from state inspection personnel who have been trained in FMIA and PPIA requirements. The facilities are then allowed to sell and ship their products outside their home states. In 2011, USDA finalized regulations to allow state employees to administer federal regulations and use the USDA Mark of Inspection at selected establishments. FSIS works in partnership with other USDA agencies through the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which provides a services to more than 90 percent of the more than 6,200 federally inspected small or very small meat-, poultry- and egg-processing plants.