Wall Meats gets new certification, stamping first Kitzan lambs
Wall, May 23, 2023 – Wall Meat Processing, a small meat processing plant in Wall, South Dakota, has opened new opportunities for South Dakota’s lamb industry by becoming the state’s first certified Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) facility, overseen by the USDA. A number of key people in the sheep industry attended this milestone event as Wall Meats stamped the first lambs with this new certification. The CIS certification opens doors for local lamb and meat producers, positioning South Dakota’s meat industry for growth and success, bringing benefits to producers, consumers, and the local economy.
The Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program for interstate meat shipment promotes the expansion of business opportunities for smaller state-inspected meat and poultry establishments and their customers. Under CIS, state-inspected plants can operate as federally inspected facilities, with specific conditions. Currently 10 states participate in the CIS program including South Dakota. The CIS program is limited to plants with 25 or fewer employees, must be in the 29 states that have established a Meat and Poultry Inspection Program (MPI), and maintain “at least equal to” FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) regulatory standards.
Under the CIS program, Wall Meats and their producers can now sell their meat products across state lines, offering new selling opportunities. This development is particularly exciting for Kitzan Family Farms LLC of Nisland, SD, whose lambs were the first to be inspected and stamped, and can now sell their products to schools, institutions, and individuals out of state who are seeking high-quality, South Dakota lamb. This new certification could lead to increased demand for locally produced meats, benefiting producers by expanding their customer base.
Wall Meats co-owner, Ken Charfauros stated, “I think this is a gamechanger for small plants, because it provides the ability for our local producers to reach beyond the borders of South Dakota.”
Tammy Basel, SD Sheep Growers Lamb Promotion Chair, and local sheep producer commented, “South Dakota has a tremendous reputation for producing high quality proteins, and the demand for lamb is increasing. For many years I have promoted and served lamb samples at the Black Hills motorcycle rally. They often ask how they can buy South Dakota lamb in their home state. What Wall Meats has done is blown the door wide open for retail and personal sales opportunities across state lines.”
Jaelyn Whaley is a SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist, located in Rapid City, who commented, “Consumers have been wanting transparency and the ability to know where their food comes from; that’s where direct marketing comes into play. With South Dakota being the 6th largest sheep producing state, adding the ability to ship our high-quality product anywhere in the country not only supports producers, but allows consumers to truly be a part of the farm experience.”
Gwen Kitzan of Kitzan Family Farms LLC, who co-owns a local sheep business concluded, “The ability to sell South Dakota’s finest lamb to a wider audience and promote the benefits of locally sourced, high-quality products ensures a brighter future for the agricultural community and its consumers.”
Top quality and safety are priorities, making Wall Meats an excellent choice for both producers and consumers. CIS certification often comes with stringent regulations and standards that ensure the meat processing facility adheres to strict food safety guidelines. This can result in improved product quality, and increased consumer confidence in the safety of the products.
Being federally certified may grant the meat processor access to various government programs, such as funding, grants, or technical assistance. These programs can provide financial support for equipment upgrades, training, or business development initiatives. Such support can contribute to the growth and sustainability of the local meat processing business, positively impacting the local economy.