On-farm Slaughter and Inspection of Meat for Sale By Ken McMillin and Frank Pinkerton

As Frank Pinkerton indicated in his column, on-farm slaughter of goats and other livestock is receiving more attention during the co- ronavirus situation. Part of this may be due to the decline in numbers of custom and small inspected slaughter plants in the past decades. There also seems to be a general mistrust of companies and their vary- ing and inconsistent health and safety practices and protocols. The solution of livestock producers to meet the demands of cus- tomers for more locally sourced meat has resulted in the opening of old and new meat processing facilities in both rural and urban com- munities. It seems a relatively simple decision to buy locally or to determine if you want someone to slaughter your animals or to do it yourself. However, meat and poultry have traditionally been the most highly regulated foods because of the risk of transmitting zoonotic diseases from animals to humans. Don’t make a foolish mistake by not knowing the laws and regulations regarding animal slaughter and the processing and sale of meat.

There are advantages to on-farm slaughter. There is the oppor- tunity for a higher profit margin by eliminating the middle marketing and logistics segments between producer and consumer of hauling costs, commission and yardage fees and uncertain prices. Animals are less stressed (if sacrifice is humane), a repeat customer base can be established, and there is potential to sell every goat, including the nonuniform ones.

But there are downsides. The time spent on dealing with indi- viduals coming to your farm, potential cultural or language barriers, bargaining or haggling, loss of family privacy and disposal of any

unwanted parts may be discouraging factors.

Even though the major goal is to produce a safe meat product, the health of family members and the individuals coming to your farm is also a concern with coronavirus or other transmissible dis- eases. At a minimum to produce safe meat, there must be a water supply and hygienic environment. This might mean plumbing ex- penses, a concrete slab and a roof of some sort. As indicated by its bureaucracy, government takes its jurisdic- tion over the production and selling of food very seriously, even though the burden of food safety is on the producer and processor and not any of the government agencies that regulate foods. How does this relate to on-farm slaughter? The laws and regu- lations that govern the sale of food to customers, whether at farm markets, grocery stores, or restaurants, are complex, reflecting the varying degrees of foodborne illness risk that different types of food pose to the consumer.

Each sector of the food chain is clearly defined and explained in various government regulations, laws, directives, policies and no- tices. In some instances of producing cottage foods under Food and Drug Agency regulations, penalties for infractions are minor. Not so for meat and poultry. Don’t even think about doing on-farm slaughter or selling of any meat, inspected or uninspected, without a license. Being blissfully ignorant and asking questions later like you might do for some violations don’t work with FSIS and APHIS (Ani- mal and Plant Health Inspection Service) as the fines and jail time for non-compliance are usually not disputable.

This overview will give readers an introduction to meat inspec- tion and give a strong justification of why checking with local and

November 2020 | Goat Rancher


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