HomeArkansas newsNew meat processing facility licensed by the Arkansas Meat Inspection Program

New meat processing facility licensed by the Arkansas Meat Inspection Program

Walnut Ridge, Arkansas – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture recently announced a significant development in the state’s meat processing capabilities. Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge has become the fourth meat processing facility to be licensed under the Arkansas Meat Inspection Program. This licensing marks a notable step in expanding the state’s agricultural infrastructure and ensuring the availability of locally sourced meat products.

Williams Baptist University joins the ranks of Arkansas State University, JACO Meats, and Ferguson’s Packing Company as state-inspected meat processing facilities. This expansion is part of a broader initiative to enhance Arkansas’s agriculture industry and consumer options.

The significance of this development was underscored by Governor Sanders designating November 16 as “Walnut Ridge Capital for a Day.” During this event, Governor Sanders, along with Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Energy and Environment Shane Khoury, Arkansas Chief Workforce Officer Mike Rogers, and various local government, business, and university leaders, toured the newly licensed facility.

Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward expressed optimism about the program, noting that the increase in state inspection facilities is excellent news for both Arkansas consumers and the agriculture industry. The goal is to continue expanding the availability of locally sourced meat and meat products for Arkansans.

The Arkansas Meat Inspection Program was established by Act 418 during the 2021 Regular Session of the Arkansas General Assembly and solidified through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS). This program enables the Department to inspect meat products intended for distribution within Arkansas.

Arkansas is among 28 states participating in FSIS’s State Meat and Poultry Inspection programs. These programs are essential for ensuring program enforcement and regulatory compliance in smaller establishments operating within the state. They are required to develop, administer, and enforce requirements that are “at least equal to” those in the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for additional meat processing capacity due to disruptions in the food supply chain. In response, in 2020, the Department worked with the Arkansas legislature and industry stakeholders to allocate $10.4 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to the Arkansas Meat and Poultry Processing Grant Program. Williams Baptist University was a beneficiary of this funding.

For further details on program requirements or application procedures, interested parties can visit the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s website.

Olivia Martinez

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