A question that I have received several times recently is “What are the legal requirements to directly market meat?” In this column I will respond by quoting from an article on the topic written by Extension Educators Rob Leeds, Garth Ruff, Jacci Smith, Tony Nye and Ag Law Resource program Extension specialist Peggy Hall (https://u.osu.edu/ohioagmanager/2020/04/29/direct-marketing-of-meat/).
“The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the local Health Department are the two agencies that are responsible for regulating sales of meat in Ohio. ODA oversees the processing plants and sets the food safety regulations for the state. The local health department enforces the food safety regulations at the local level.
Producers can slaughter and sell their own chickens (up to 1,000 birds), rabbits, or non-amenable meats directly at the farm without a license if that’s the only food they’re selling, or with a farm market registration if selling non-amenable meats along with other low risk foods. In order to sell “higher risk” meat products (including cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats) to the public, producers must have their animals processed at a fully inspected plant under state or federal meat inspection. In Ohio there are also custom exempt plants. Products processed in custom exempt plants are intended for the producer’s own use, the meat cannot be resold. These products will be labeled “Not for Sale.” https://agri.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/oda/divisions/food-safety
Depending on the marketing strategy, selling meat from a fully inspected plant can require licensing. If a producer sells meat by taking orders, delivering the animal to the processing plant and then the customer picks up the product when the processing is complete; no retail license is required. If you want to deliver pre-ordered frozen meat you do not need a license from your local health department, so long as the meat is delivered directly to the individual from the meat processing facility, without intermediate storage. If you are storing your meat you will need a storage location, which is considered a warehouse, and this must be registered and inspected by ODA Food Safety Division. A home cannot be a warehouse, but you may be able to use your garage or an outbuilding to hold your freezers.
Some local health departments only require a warehouse registration when selling a fully inspected product from your residence, but some require additional licensing. In order to sell a fully inspected meat product from a farm market or farmers market, it is necessary to get either a mobile food establishment license or temporary food establishment license. A mobile food establishment license is for individuals that sell from a portable structure that routinely changes locations. This is the license that is used most often by farmer’s market vendors. A temporary food establishment license is for operations that operate for short periods of time. These licenses are obtained from local health departments. Each local health department sets fee and requirements for license in their area. Producers should work with the local health department when considering marketing options. For more information on licensing check out, “Selling Food from the Farm: When do you need a license?” at https://farmoffice.osu.edu/our-library/food-law”.
An important consideration for anyone who wants to direct market meat is scheduling slaughter/processing and the relationship with the processing plant. Depending upon the number of head you will need to process and the demand on the processing plant, it may be necessary to schedule six or more months in advance. Your business will work smoother if you have a processing plant that is owned/managed by someone you trust and that is easy to work with and communicate with.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Information
On May 19, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the payment details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program or CFAP. The program provides up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers/producers of various agricultural commodities that have suffered a five percent or greater price decline because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will make application through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. The application period is May 26 through August 28. Payments will be for the following categories: non-specialty crops and wool, specialty crops, livestock and dairy based on inventories and sales records.
Non-specialty crops of interest in our area include malting barley, corn, oats, soybeans, and wool. Specialty crops include commercial vegetables and fruits such as apples, peaches, strawberries, and raspberries. Livestock includes cattle, lambs, yearlings, and hogs. Dairy payments will be based on first quarter milk production of 2020.
More program information and details are available on the USDA web site at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap. In addition, the Wayne County Extension office has a CFAP information page with articles, documents, and useful web sites at http://go.osu.edu/agwayne.
Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu.