USDA Inspected!


Letter of Grant of Inspection

We did it! Today I received the official email from the USDA granting our inspection status as a USDA meat processing plant, a.k.a. the Butcher Shop at Sugar Mountain Farm.

This means that now we are able to cut meat under USDA inspection which in turn means we can start delivering out of state such as to the hundreds of Kickstarter backers and CSA Pre-Buyers who helped with funding the construction of the butcher shop.

Initially we’ll be under what is called “Dual Jurisdiction” which is both USDA and Vermont state inspected. The reason for this is that it takes time to get approval for all of our labels and recipes for sausage, corn pork, dry rub bacon, salt pork and such. These items will remain under Vermont state inspection (and thus not shippable outside Vermont) probably for another one to three months as we go through the approval process for each product. What we can do under USDA inspection, and is thus shippable, is the plain cuts like pork chops, Boston Butts, ribs, etc and the plain non-spiced ground pork.

We have already delivered many CSA Pre-Buys and Kickstarter Rewards Packages to backers over the past three years starting with those who live in Vermont and then those who were able to meet us along our delivery route from surrounding states. We’ll now begin contacting those of you who are further afield. There will be extra bonus samples in everyone’s boxes as a big thank you for all your patience and support!

One more step along the path completed in our Big Project!

Outdoors: 54°F/29°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F

Daily Spark: [Rushed crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -Wernher von Braun

PS. Note that Grant of Inspection does not mean the USDA funded our butcher shop but rather it is a license for us to start operating. Some people confuse the Grant of Inspection with a Grant that gives a project money – our butcher shop was completely funded by ourselves, loans from small private individuals like you, CSA Pre-Buyers, Kickstarter Backers, family and the cash flow of our farm. No banks nor government grants or loans went into the creation of our Big Project.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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13 Responses to USDA Inspected!

  1. BBi says:

    Congratulations. A long road, well done.

  2. angie says:

    congratulations!!!!

  3. Scott Baker says:

    Congratulations to the whole Jefferies family, your hard work and perseverance is paying off!

  4. Bob says:

    Glad to hear this! Looking forward to placing an order sometime in the future (We live in TN). Do you have a photo gallery of your completed project? I greatly enjoyed watching the building process and miss the articles about your construction techniques, but I am sure that you are glad to have reached your goals!

    • There is no one article but that would be a good one to do perhaps this year. For the entire story see the Butcher Shop Page which has links to all the significant milestones and then a link that will bring up all of the articles including perhaps 1,000 photos of construction and lots of discussion of techniques.

  5. Kaitlin Weisman says:

    Congratulations! So happy for and inspired by you. God bless!

  6. Thierry Aumais says:

    Hi. Mr. Jeffries,

    Had a parasite question if you don’t mind answering.

    Do you have pigs on the same plots of land every year? What about breaking the parasite cycle? Is garlic and cayenne pepper the only thing you’re using every once in a while?

    If so, can I safely say that intensive rotational grazing is helping control parasites, and that I can plan on having pigs on one plot of land multiple years (4-5) in a row?

    Thanks,

    Thierry

    • We’ve been keeping pigs on about 40 acres, typically 300 to 500 pigs, doing managed rotational grazing for 15 years. There are some areas that get more use than others such as around the whey tanks some of which are used year round. These areas don’t seem to be producing any parasite problem. The other areas get rotated on and off, with grazing on being anywhere from zero to four periods a year typically.

      To deworm we primarily use:
      Managed rotational grazing
      Garlic powder
      Winter
      Healthy animals
      Good genetics
      Digestive acidification (apples, whey…)
      Copper in our soils naturally
      I’m not afraid of commercial dewormers like Ivermec and Fenbendazole but rarely need them. The above does the job. If it doesn’t then hit them hard with the chemical dewormer. Vet recommends according to a new study that people do three days in succession with Fenbendazole and then a shot of Ivermec. I haven’t had the opportunity to test this myself but it makes sense. Also be sure to rotate dewormers and don’t under use the commercial dewormers or you’ll build up resistance in your local parasite population.
      See: Worms au Natural

  7. HH van den Berg says:

    You finished it! No grants, no banks, but heaps American ingenuity. Thank you for taking me along your journey. Congrats from the Netherlands.

  8. Tom Stewart says:

    Congratulations. Please let us know when we can order online.

  9. Glenn Warren says:

    Congratulations to you all; what a great accomplishment.

  10. Evan says:

    Wow , everything you have been doing is very inspiring ! I came across your butcher shop project as I was researching into how I can make that happen for me and my family . Question regarding that- do you always have to have an inspector on hand when you are butchering? Or is there a limit to how much you can produce without having An inspector there? One more question if you don’t mind? Do you use straw/ hay to keep you hogs a little warmer in the winter? How much on average. I will eventually have around 45-60 and I live in Colorado – hay is hard to come by right now . I really appreciate you and all the articles! Look forward to reading the next post

    • When doing slaughter there is always an inspector – they examine the animal before the kill (antemortem), observe that the kill is done humanely and then they examine the internal organs to check for disease postmortem.

      With butchery, sausage making, charcuterie, smoking, etc the inspector shows up once a day to check records, observe for a while, answer questions, verify sanitation and then leaves to check another plant. If we were really big they might be here all day for that but we’re small and always will be. During our first three months they were here all day long each butchery day as we were getting systems worked out. They’re very helpful. This type of inspection only happens during official inspected hours.

      If we’re doing custom or retail exempt processing then the inspector doesn’t need to be there and we can do that nights and weekends. This is for some things we sell direct. We do the same processes, sanitation and record keeping and they check records next time they come for regular inspected work. We actually don’t do custom or retail exempt much. We try and get everything done in just two to two and a half days a week as we have other farm work to do as well, deliveries, etc.

      To get inspection they really want you working on a weekly schedule. It could be one day a week but every week for most of the year. If you shut down for more than, I think, three months, then you have to reapply for your inspection license.

      We feed out a lot of hay each winter, about 200 to 300 of about 1,000 lbs each at 25% moisture round wrapped bales. The pigs use it both for bedding and for food. It composts a little which makes it more digestible. I measure that there is only about 3% waste.

      If hay is hard to come by I would suggest building up the base of the deep bedding pack with branches or course wood chips. We use about seven to ten truck loads of whole tree chips a year in our Ark and other bedding areas each winter as the base. The wood chips are a lot cheaper than hay and they do decompose and they are edible to a large degree as there are a lot of branches and bark in there. Each truck load is about 40 cubic-feet.

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