Sorry it took so long to respond. Busy, busy week!
It is obvious that your local officals don't have a clue about direct
marketing meat products. Since this is new to them, you have a lot of
"ice to break." It will, however, be well worth your while.
Briefly, we sell our own retail meat (all USDA inspected) at the
farmers' market every week.
- Filet mignon @ $11.00 lb.
- pork tenderloin @ $9.00 lb.
- italian sausage @ $2.75 lb.
- roasts, steaks, fresh hams, etc.
The following is an excerpt from chapter 7 of my recent book "Dynamic
Farmers' Marketing." Hopefully, this will give you some guidance. If you
need examples of farmers' market rules and regulations pertaining to
this issue, let me know and I can e-mail or mail hard copies in order to
assist you in your effort.
Many small farmers are producing meat products on the farm for
their own family, but neglect to consider the idea of retailing
poultry, beef, pork and other meat products to their customers at the
local farmers' market. Rather than settling for whatever the situation
is with conventional markets, those farmers could (and should) be
getting retail dollars and making much more profit by cutting out most
of the middle men.
Of course, the prevalent question is always "but what about
inspection?" My response to that is "What about inspection? If the law
requires it, then do it." It's a lot more effort, but you will
eventually get paid for going to that trouble when the cash register
starts singing. By taking your livestock to a state or federally
inspected slaughter facility, you are doing what is necessary to satisfy
the law. Check around first, however, with both the people who are in
charge of meat inspection and the people who are actively involved in
direct marketing their meat products. You may be pleasantly surprised
that several meat products are exempt from inspection.
Let me share a story with you. Joel and Teresa Salatin, neighbors
and friends of ours, arrive at the Staunton/Augusta Farmers' Market
every Saturday morning with a huge chest freezer in the back of a pickup
truck. As soon as they park, they plug the freezer into an electrical
outlet. They call their freezer the "Treasure Chest" and have
handwritten signs all over their stall that promote the qualities of
their beef, pork, chicken, turkey and rabbit. The essence of their
farmers' marketing campaign is:
"Clean, chemical-free, local meat straight from our family farm to you."
For years, they had been told by various government officials first
one reason and then another why they just couldn't do this sort of
thing. None of the officials, however, could agree on the specific
regulations that prevented it. More often than not, the Salatins were
told "You need to talk to so and so." Then so and so would say "Well,
you really need to go through that other office." It was a real
bureaucratic mess that just got more and more tangled as the Salatins
fought for the privilege to direct market their own meat products.
The end result was that, in this particular jurisdiction, poultry
was exempt from inspection if the farm produced no more than 20,000
birds annually. Rabbit was also exempt from inspection. Beef and pork
are required to be inspected, nevertheless, so the Salatins now haul
their cattle and hogs to the nearest USDA inspected processing
facility, which is forty miles away. There, the beef and pork is
inspected, processed, cut, and wrapped into consumer size packages with
clear and precise labeling. Everything is by the book. The Salatins then
pick up the end product, store it in chest freezers, and proceed to
direct market their own meat products at the farmers' market every
Saturday morning. It's a lot of work and an added expense in production,
but with the prices that customers are willing to pay for clean,
chemical-free, local meat products, it is very worthwhile.
The most popular meat products are: beef steaks and roasts,
broilers, pork tenderloin, ground beef, pork sausage, whole turkeys, and
rabbit. Another revelation - the most expensive cuts of meat seem to
sell the quickest.
I'm not going to tell you that retailing your meat products at the
farmers' market is easy. It certainly is not. But you should research
and find out exactly what you can and cannot sell. Don't be put off by
the first government bureaucrat you talk to. Keep trying. Supplying your
customers with your own meat products will be an excellent addition to
your market product line.
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command