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Animals + Butcher Yourself = Added Value - Department of Make You Sad Inspections.

 
Posts: 104
Location: Rutledge, MO
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Does anyone know where comprehensive information can be found concerning raising meat animals, butchering them yourself, perhaps processing them yourself, (cutting chickens into portions, making jerky, etc,) and selling them yourself - as well as how these activities fit in the food inspect/interstate trade/etc scheme of things?

In other words, what does it take to mind your own business, look after your customers, and satisfy the powers that be that you aren't going to cause the next pandemic foodborne illness outbreak?
 
pollinator
Posts: 3588
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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My wife and I learned this the hard way:

DON'T give them your name and address if you talk to anyone unless you are ready to take it to the next level. PO box. We actually had someone show up to inspect our place 3 days after calling for basic starting info. Friendly guy, but still put us on the radar. They also make it hard to impossible to start something, then quit, then start again. Once you have become registered/licensed/etc. you have to stay that way until you quit for good--there is no way to give up that registration and then get it back short of changing your tax ID.

You will be dealing with dept. of ag for the animals (and possibly butchering) and dept. of health and safety (possibly for the butchering and for any other value added processing) at a minimum. It is a mixed up mess depending on what animal (chickens, goats, cattle, hogs, and rabbits are all wildly different rules) and then if you go inter-state it is even crazier.
 
Collin Vickers
Posts: 104
Location: Rutledge, MO
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So R Scott,

Is there a centralized place to go to find out what actually needs to be done to satisfy the powers that be?

If everyone were to adopt a policy like Joel Salatin, where anyone can come poke around on the farm any time, it seems to me that you couldn't get by with even the slightest infraction. Obviously, no ethical farmer should be willing to cut corners when it comes to sanitation, but government expectations just aren't reasonable in some cases, since their legislative measures are usually ignorant and reactionary.

I seem to remember Salatin mentioning in one of his books that if your raise fewer that X number of birds annually, you are exempt from inspection. This is the sort of specific information I would like to find.
 
R Scott
pollinator
Posts: 3588
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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There isn't in Kansas, I don't know about Texas.

It was a real battle figuring it out and trying to deal with conflicting laws and rules.
 
Posts: 155
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This varies by animal and by state. Poultry under 20,000 birds per year is left to state regulation under the Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957. So, for instance in Alabama, you can slaughter up to 20k birds per year at your state inspected facility. The rub is that in AL, you cannot gross more $200 from this activity, so the exemption is essentially useless. In any event, these birds cannot be sold interstate.

Cattle, swine, sheep, goats, ect. are covered under the Federal Meat inspection Act and its follow-ons. It requires any meat for sale to be slaughtered and processed at an inspected facility. It allows states to inspect facilities but the meat from those facilities can only be sold intrastate. If you wish to sell interstate, the meat must be slaughtered and processed in a USDA inspected facility.

Here's a handy summary from California.
http://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/files/26481.pdf
 
Posts: 1114
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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We are in the process of building our own on-farm USDA inspected slaughterhouse, butcher shop and smokehouse for our family farm. We raise pastured pigs and deliver fresh weekly to customers in our area, mostly wholesale to stores and restaurants plus some to individuals. We take pigs to butcher every week of the year. It's expensive and a lot of driving. Thus why we're building our own meat processing facility.

To get started I would suggest contacting your state agency of agriculture and also visiting the USDA's website at:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/

and specifically see:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Small_Very_Small_Plants/index.asp

and

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/Grant_of_Inspection_Guideline/index.asp

which provide the information about what you need to do to get inspection.

You can check out our butcher shop project at my blog at:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop

I would suggest spending several years taking your livestock to a licensed facility while you develop skills, markets and such. If you're doing much volume year round then having your own processing is valuable. Processing costs us about 50% of our income. Bringing it on-farm so we can do it ourselves will save us that cost, keeping the money in our pocket, and let us do new and interesting value added products.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/
 
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