Small Farms Can Sell Chickens Locally Without USDA Inspection

US - As part of the Agricultural Viability Act of 2007 signed into law on May 11, small farms are now allowed to sell up to 1,000 farm-raised and farm-processed birds (chickens or turkeys) without a USDA inspection at farmers' markets and to restaurants.
calendar icon 22 August 2007
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No USDA inspections necessary.

These venue exemptions are in addition to a previous exemption that allowed farms to sell such birds direct to consumers on the farm, but the total number of birds allowed has not changed from a total of 999. This number is consistent with an existing federal regulation regarding the sale of farm-processed, uninspected birds, according to Rural Vermont, one of the organizations involved in working toward the new exemptions at a state level.

The birds can only be sold whole, cannot be sold over state lines, and must be labeled prominently "not inspected." In the case of restaurants, any menu item including uninspected poultry must name the farm of origin and state clearly that it was processed on the farm and not inspected. Restaurant owners also must sign a statement saying they are aware the poultry is uninspected and they must store and handle it separately from all other food products.

The change in Vermont regulations was prompted by American Flatbread in Waitsfield discovering that the restaurant could not purchase chickens from a neighboring farm. It caused American Flatbread founder and president George Schenk to start a conversation between local food and farming activists and the state's health and agriculture departments about "why we have a food system that makes it easy and cheap to access industrially-produced chicken from a thousand miles away, but virtually impossible to buy chicken from our neighbor across the road," he wrote.

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