Saturday, May 30, 2020

Requirements for U.S. meat slaughter and processing outlined in June 3 webinar

By Sarah Cato
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts:
·       National Agricultural Law Center webinar to discuss oversight, requirements for meat slaughter and processing in the U.S.
·       Webinar is June 3 at noon to 1 p.m. EDT
·       Register online at

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With meat and poultry processing crippled by COVID-19 closures, some producers with a backlog of animals are seeking other means to process their stock, including smaller processing facilities. Additionally, interest is growing in the necessary steps to open and maintain these types of facilities. However, there are numerous considerations for both groups to examine, Elizabeth Rumley, a Senior Staff Attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center, said.

Slaughter and processing facilities must meet sanitation, building, and sometimes inspection requirements, which differ depending on the services the facility provides, who its customers are and in what state it operates.

Livestock processing in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Safety Inspection Service, or USDA-FSIS. That authority may be delegated to a state agency, if that state chooses to apply for it, as long as the state requirements are “at least equal to” those enforced by USDA-FSIS.

Federal vs. state
“State inspection programs add another layer of laws and regulations to meat and poultry processing requirements in those states that have implemented them,” Rumley said. “The substantive difference between the state and federal inspection is that that state programs, with some exceptions, only allow for meat processed in these facilities to be sold within the state, while FSIS inspected facilities can export meat to other states and countries.”

Rumley added that these differences go one step further once the type of facility is considered.

“Exceptions and exclusions such as those for custom slaughter plants and small poultry processing facilities may change the processing oversight and requirements even further,” she said.

To help individuals navigate the complexity of the requirements for slaughter and processing facilities, the National Agricultural Law Center is hosting a free webinar to discuss the agencies with authority over the slaughter and processing of meat and poultry, differences between state and federal oversight, proposed federal legislation that may change processing requirements and additional challenges facing small meat processors.

The webinar will be held June 3 at noon EDT/11 a.m. CDT, and will be led by Elizabeth Rumley and NALC Senior Staff Attorney Rusty Rumley.

Register online for the webinar at

For more information on meat processing laws in the United States, visit

To see more about the economics of COVID-19 and meat processing, visit

For more information on the National Agricultural Law Center, visit or follow @Nataglaw on Twitter.

About the National Agricultural Law Center
The National Agricultural Law Center serves as the nation’s leading source of agricultural and food law research and information. The Center works with producers, state and federal policymakers, Congressional staffers, attorneys, land grant universities, and many others to provide objective, nonpartisan agricultural and food law research and information to the nation’s agricultural community.
The Center is a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and works in close partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, National Agricultural Library.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact 479-575-4607 as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.