BIDWELL, Ohio — A small-scale meat packer in Gallia County has become the first in the state to slaughter livestock under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.
The program will allow the R&C Packing, of Bidwell, to slaughter cattle, sheep, and goats and ship meat over state lines, without needing a federal inspection.
The Cooperative Interstate Shipment program, authorized in the 2008 farm bill, allows small, state-inspected businesses with 25 or fewer employees to ship and sell meat products across state lines without requiring a federal inspection. Meat products produced in these establishments are inspected by the state, but are subject to the same inspection process as larger facilities.
R&C joins 10 other Ohio companies that have joined the program since it started in 2012, but is the first to be certified for slaughtering.
“Being able to ship our products anywhere in the United States will open up great opportunities for our customers that want to expand direct marketing possibilities of their personal products,” said Jamie Graham, owner of R&C Packing. “It allows us to compete on another level with larger processors and provide added services to customers that are typically not available to them.”
Graham said his facility works with local producers to offer branded packaging, and direct-to-consumer sales. Prior to this program, state-inspected businesses could only sell their products within their own state, and switching to federal inspection often required a large investment by the business.
Graham said he is already seeing increased demand as a result of the program, and expects that will continue. He employs about 12 full-time workers, and is looking to grow.
“We are presently planning to expand our current facility and also our processing capabilities to accommodate larger volumes at this facility, or another,” he said.
David Daniels, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said the state was first to participate in the program, in 2012, and continues to be a leader.
“The department is proud to participate in a program that’s working to increase opportunities for the state’s small meat and poultry operations and our livestock and poultry producers,” he said.
In addition to Ohio, the voluntary program has participants in Indiana, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
Ashley McDonald, spokesperson at ODA, said initial interest was primarily among processors located near state lines, but interest has grown to include other businesses, that also have an interest in selling in other states.
Anyone with questions on how to start or expand a meat processing business in Ohio should contact the department’s Division of Meat Inspection at 614-728-6260.
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