U.S – In a significant move to strengthen its meat inspection capabilities, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has secured a substantial US$9 million in state funding.

This financial boost comes as a result of a cooperative agreement formed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) in July 2022.

The allocation aims to support and enhance Oregon’s state meat inspection program, addressing crucial challenges faced by the state’s meat producers.

Under this cooperative agreement, Oregon’s state inspection program is tasked with developing, administering, and enforcing standards that are on par with those stipulated by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

The FSIS will provide guidance to Oregon’s Meat Processing Inspection (MPI) program through the cooperative agreement, conducting annual reviews to ensure compliance. Additionally, Oregon stands to receive an annual financial injection of approximately US$60 million from the FSIS, further bolstering its MPI initiatives.

Oregon’s decision to pursue a state meat inspection program stemmed from the dire predicament faced by the state’s meat producers, particularly exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the critical issues was the limited availability of in-state processing facilities, leading to prolonged waiting times for ranchers seeking to process their livestock. Some ranchers reported waiting for an astonishing 18 months before their livestock could be processed.

Under the terms of the cooperative agreement, existing USDA-inspected facilities in Oregon now have the option to enroll in the state meat inspection program if it proves more economically viable than federal inspection.

This shift allows meat producers greater flexibility and control over their processing operations, a crucial step in reviving and sustaining Oregon’s meat industry.

The recently allocated US$9 million in state funding marks a significant milestone for Oregon’s meat inspection program. Over the next two years, these funds will be instrumental in expanding and enhancing the program’s capacity.

This development is set to benefit not only Oregon’s meat producers but also consumers who rely on a robust and reliable meat inspection system for their safety and well-being.

The infusion of funds will allow Oregon to modernize and streamline its meat inspection processes, potentially reducing the backlog of livestock awaiting processing.

This will, in turn, stimulate the state’s meat industry, boost its economic resilience, and ensure a more steady and efficient supply of meat products to local and regional markets.

In light of the ongoing challenges posed by food safety and the evolving landscape of meat production, Oregon’s commitment to upgrading its meat inspection program is a commendable step forward.

The cooperative agreement with the USDA’s FSIS and the substantial funding allocation reaffirm the state’s dedication to supporting its meat producers and safeguarding the interests of consumers.

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