SUPPORT SMALL FARMERS, LOCAL ECONOMIES & TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE!

Take a minute TODAY to tell the Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee to Reject On-Farm Poultry Processing Rules

LD 1765 Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 348: Poultry Slaughter and Processing with Grower/Producer Exemption

PUBLIC HEARING WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3 1:00PM 206 CROSS BUILDING, STATE HOUSE STATION, AUGUSTA

WORK SESSION FRIDAY, MARCH 5 1:00PM  206 CROSS BUILDING, STATE HOUSE STATION, AUGUSTA

Last June, Maine enacted a 1,000 bird poultry exemption. The exemption allows farmers who raise and slaughter poultry on their farm to sell the poultry at farmers’ markets, directly from their farms or through Community Support Agriculture (CSA) shares without a state-inspected facility. The exemption does not include sales to supermarkets, restaurants, or any other institutions. It is a law that promotes and supports the growth of small scale farming across the state. The new law required the Quality Assurance and Regulation (QAR) division of the Maine Department of Agriculture to write regulations that would “establish requirements for the physical facilities and sanitary processes used by poultry producers whose products are exempt from inspection.”

At a public hearing in December, the QAR heard much opposition to their draft rules, mostly on the grounds that the rules are unnecessary and burdensome to small-scale producers who would be required to build a new facility to process less than 1,000 birds per year. Learn more here.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

2 Responses to SUPPORT SMALL FARMERS, LOCAL ECONOMIES & TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE!

  1. Don Barrett, Pam Page says:

    We run a small-scale farm, which includes poultry. We sell chicken, geese and turkey. We have understood that the only way we could legally sell our product at sites other than our premises was to take our birds to the only state-inspected processing facility in Monmouth, COOPP which we have done ever since they opened. Because of the mandated additional safety measures and inspections performed during the processing of birds done at COOPP, they are slower and cost more than most other facilities. This has put us at a significant price disadvantage to the majority of small-scale producers who have been selling uninspected birds both on and off their premises. Even though existing laws prohibiting sale of uninspected birds off the farm premises have been seldom enforced, we still continue to take our birds to the COOPP facility, because there is simply too great a risk for food-borne illness in uninspected processing of meat. We strongly oppose any poultry producer being exempt from inspection of their product and processing. Under the present rules, any facility producing 1000 – 20,000 birds is exempt from inspection of their poultry processing, and only has to have an inspected facility, which need only be visited by an inspector once a year. Clearly, by producing a significantly larger amount of product than small-scale producers, these larger facilities would affect a larger number of people should their product become contaminated. And, again, they have unfair advantage over the producers that must have their poultry inspected. Thus, we support these rules, because we think they will increase food safety, simply by making it more difficult in terms of cost for small-scale producers to continue to operate as they have been, and will hopefully result in fewer uninspected birds being sold. However, we would like to see the end of exemptions for any producer, regardless of size. It is simply too high a risk to allow the sale of uninspected processed poultry. We recognize that we are on the opposite side of this issue from many small farmers. We are small farmers, too, and know what a struggle it is to remain financially viable and competitive with larger producers and agribusiness. Nor are we fans of overbearing government and excessive rules and regulations. But there are good reasons for these rules. We are processing birds for human consumption, often after an interval of storage. The potential for contamination with harmful microorganisms is so much higher when you are talking about meat. No other meat product can be sold uninspected. Why should poultry? The answer is not to relax standards and endanger public safety because the alternative is not financially feasible. The answer is to make the alternative financially feasible. All producers/processors should have the same requirements of inspection for birds processed for public sale. There should be no exemptions for inspection. “Quality Assurance and Regulation” is the name of the agency that wrote these rules. We support these rules only because they seem to be a first very small step in helping assure the quality and wholesomeness of the poultry produced in Maine. However, it is our opinion that the industry will be divided, with unfair advantage to exempted facilities and unacceptable risks to public health, until such time that there are no exempted facilities, and poultry processing is inspected just like butchering of all other meat products for sale in this state. We also believe that the state should take a more proactive role in supporting small-scale poultry processors in Maine and should help develop additional inspected processing facilities in this state

  2. Jeff Barr says:

    I am a new member and wonder if there are committees in FfMF to work on?

    Jeff 229-6630

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