In Vermont we have a new Secretary of Agriculture, Roger Allbee. He is already an improvement over his predicessor, Steve Kerr, as Mr. Allbee has stated he will not be pushing for Premises Registration and thus NAIS.
“It is unlikely that premises identification — a proposal requiring all livestock operations to register the location of their animals to identify them in the event of a disease outbreak — will come up this session. Proponents believe it is necessary so that officials will know where animals are located, but critics maintain that surveillance is unnecessary, a waste of taxpayer dollars, and a first step toward a federal identification and tracking mandate. The state’s new agriculture secretary Roger Albee does not plan to push the issue.”
In closely related news the Vermont Agency of Agriculture has declined to pursue the NAIS Cooperative Agreement funds that would have been used by the USDA to get states to make NAIS mandatory while the USDA pretends it is just voluntary, at the federal level. I hope that other states will follow Vermont’s lead, refuse these bribery funds and resist pressure from the federal government and exporters to implement the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). For more details about NAIS go visit NoNAIS.org.
Related to that somewhat is the issue of today’s weather. It was ice rain here on the mountain. We were supposed to load up a pig to go to market but with the weather it was not safe to do that and not safe to even go out on our road. Getting off the mountain was not an option never mind getting 300 lbs of live pork in the van. Given the lack of slaughter facilities in our state and the tight schedules that makes for complications. The solution is for the state government, and the USDA, to allow, nay, to encourage on-farm slaughter. On-farm slaughter means the animals can meet their end in their familiar surroundings so they are less stressful, avoid the trauma of transport and don’t release adrenalin into their blood which is more humane and means higher quality meat for the consumer. On farm slaughter is allowed for poultry and should be allowed for small farms for all types of livestock.
farmers are exempted from inspection if they slaughter or process not more than 20,000 poultry annually for sale within the state.
–USDA Direct Marketing Document
(4) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to poultry producers with respect to poultry of their own raising on their own farms if (i) such producers slaughter not more than 1,000 poultry during the calendar year for which this exemption is being determined; (ii) such poultry producers do not engage in buying or selling poultry products other than those produced from poultry raised on their own farms; and (iii) none of such poultry moves in commerce (as defined in section 453(a) of this title).
–21 US Code Sec. 464
Write your state legislators, agriculture departments and governors to urge them to allow on-farm slaughter in your state. Below is my letter to our new Secretary of Agriculture.
Dear Mr. Allbee,
One of the issues I hope that you will address in your new position as Secretary of Agriculture is the problem of slaughter facilities. I know that the Agency of Agriculture has been working on a mobile slaughter facility but that is not a good solution for many micro-farmers. It is very expensive and needs larger numbers of birds to justify the costs of a visit. Additionally it only addresses one type of livestock since that facility is directed wholely toward the poultry market. We also need help for the producers of small numbers of pigs, cattle, sheep and goats.
The ideal solution would be for Vermont to explicitly allow and even encourage on-farm slaughter for all types of animals. On-farm slaughter means that the animals are able to stay to the end in their familiar surroundings. This results in higher quality meat for the consumer because there is less bruising, less stress of transport and a reduction of stress chemicals in the animals’ blood streams before death which damage the meat.
Under both USDA and state regulations we can already do on-farm slaughter for customers if we are doing less than 1,000 chickens per year. Similarly, we should be able to do on-farm slaughter if we do less than say 50 cattle a year, 200 pigs a year, 300 sheep or goats a year, etc.
What I would suggest is an initial trial where on-farm slaughter is encouraged for direct sales from farm to customer situations for all livestock. The Agency of Agriculture could help by publishing a guide book of recommendations for procedures as they do for poultry slaughter. The AoA could also offer an inexpensive, one day certification course that would help farmers market with the seal of approval so consumers know they have taken the course.
Later, as that process gets smoothed out, it could be expanded for retail cuts sales and then in time as wholesale to local stores. A simple clear labeling rule for retail and wholesale in-state sales and the same basic specifications as we have for small scale poultry slaughter would take Vermont forward and help farmers thrive and consumers get quality food while buying locally.
Sugar Mtn Farm
Outdoors: 37°F/30°F Miserable Freezing Rain & Ice
Farm House: 69°F/51°F five logs
Tiny Cottage: 63°F/53°F no work