Pastured broilers (whether the Cornish X or new free-range variety) have always been a part of our long term plans. Housing, feeding, and growing them appears difficult at first, but nothing compared to processing. Once you begin processing an animal, however, you invite the state and federal government onto your property due to the Food Safety Inspection Act and other related regulations. While the purposes, intents, and/or reasoning behind this act or any other are up for debate, I will save that for another post. Today, I want to address the current state of small producers in Alabama, the exemptions currently available, and some possible alternative methods to get your product in front of consumers who are demanding it in the marketplace.
There are many, but the ones below probably affect most small producers at this time. Unfortunately, Alabama laws trump the Federal law when it comes to exemption. More on that a little further down. Details and criteria for each can be found in this USDA document: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oppde/rdad/fsisnotices/poultry_slaughter_exemption_0406.pdf
- Personal Use Exemption
- Custom Slaughter/Processing Exemption*
- Producer/Grower – 1000 Limit Exemption*
- Producer/Grower – 20,000 Limit Exemption*
- Producer/Grower or Other Person (PGOP) Exemption
- Small Enterprise Exemption*
- Retail Store Exemption
- Religious Dietary Exemption
* – denotes those exemptions likely to be employed by the majority of small producers in Alabama (however, only one exemption may be claimed).
Summary Table Adapted from the USDA Bulletin linked above
Alabama Exemptions and Notes
(The following is adapted from: NMPAN Guide to State Poultry Processing Regulations, version date of 02 August 2012)
Alabama has a state poultry inspection program, administered by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI). ADAI inspects state, custom-exempt, and federal plants (per the Talmadge-Aiken Act).
1. Does Alabama accept the federal exemptions for poultry processing?
Yes. ADAI has adopted all the federal exemptions.
2. Does Alabama require licensing to process poultry?
3. Does Alabama have sanitation requirements for processing facilities?
Yes. Alabama follows the USDA sanitation requirements (9 CFR 416). For those under exemption, ADAI conducts periodic inspection of operations to ensure they are meeting requirements.
4. Do I need to talk to anyone locally other than ADAI?
No. Contact ADAI to determine specific requirements for your operation.
5. Where can I sell my poultry?
There are no restrictions for where poultry can be sold within the state other than those specified in the USDA exemptions.
Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, Animal Industries
Alabama Administrative Code: 2-17-1, 2-17-38, 2-15-110, 80-3-10-02, and 80-3-10-03.
Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries
Meat & Poultry Inspection
1445 Federal Drive
Montgomery, AL 36107
Phone: (334) 240-7210
Cal Norris, Unit Manager
At one time, there was a $200.00 annual limit to the amount of poultry that could be sold. I will investigate that further and see what the law is currently and repost here, hopefully with some official documentation from the state that will provide an accurate account of what is and is not allowed.
My hope is that we as small producers, can not only sell directly to consumers but also to niche retail outlets that provide locally sourced/produced goods.
Thanks for reading and enjoy what remains of Summer!