The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that Ohio will be the first state to participate in its Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program, which allows small, state-inspected meat processors to ship their products across state lines. The program will expand economic opportunities for America's small meat and poultry processors, strengthen state and local economies, and increase consumer access to safe, locally-produced food, said the USDA.

"This agreement allows a small processor in Ohio to sell products to neighbors in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and beyond," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "Expanding market opportunities for meat from local processors makes these small businesses more viable, while also ensuring that participating establishments have robust food safety systems in place to produce safe food for consumers."

Under the cooperative agreement, small, state-inspected businesses with 25 or fewer employees will be allowed to sell meat products across state lines. Meat products produced in selected establishments will be subject to the same regulatory sampling programs as those established in the federal inspection program. The program was established by the 2008 Farm Bill.