New meat inspection agreement allows Vt. to OK out-of-state sales

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 8:04 AM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A new meat inspection agreement between the USDA and the state of Vermont will help some local businesses expedite sales out of state.

“We make and supply Nepalese Dumplings. They are called Momos, and we also make Momo Sauce,” said Nurbu Sherpa, the owner of Sherpa Foods, part of the Chittenden County community since 2015.

Sherpa says business success in the Green Mountain State led them to believe they would find success elsewhere, too.

“We wanted to bring our products outside Vermont, and for that, you needed USDA approval,” said Sherpa.

At least until now. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has set up a program called the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program. The agreement with the USDA allows state meat inspectors to ensure the manufacturer is following USDA guidelines required to process and ship meat out of Vermont.

Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts says it will benefit the local economy.

“We’re pretty excited about it because a lot of companies have not wanted to expand or haven’t expanded because of a limited market, and this will allow them to look elsewhere across the United States to grow,” he said.

Before this program, any meat or poultry product processed here in Vermont was confined to the state borders because of meat and poultry restrictions.

Sherpa Foods’ Beef Momos are the first to see the stamp.

“I think it will be a huge boost for our sales, for our company,” said Sherpa.

And while Sherpa Foods is the first, Tebbetts says they most certainly won’t be the last.

“Local food is important, it’s growing, but there is also opportunity for folks to get into bigger markets,” he said.

Some business owners like the idea of local control, Tebbetts says, and this program is designed with them in mind.

“With state inspection, with our oversight, with the endorsement from USDA, it sort of brings us all together, and it’s more comfortable for some companies to do this,” he said.

And in true Sherpa Foods fashion, not only is it expected to help them, but the community it grew in too.

“Also, hopefully, we can start creating jobs and be able to provide back to the community, as well,” said Sherpa.

The hope is now that Sherpa Foods is on board, it will serve as an incentive for other businesses to explore more shipping opportunities and overall boost Vermont’s economy.

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