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Guidance for Written Humane Handling Plans Commercial Livestock Slaughter

All livestock commercial slaughter establishments that are licensed in the state of Vermont are required to meet the requirements of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978 (HMSA)( 7 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.), the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), 6 V.S.A. Chapter 201 and Chapter 204, and all implementing regulations. 

Upon application for a Vermont License as a commercial slaughter facility, the applicant is required to submit a written humane livestock handling plan to the Vermont Secretary of Agriculture that details how they will comply with the above requirements.

NOTE: Federal establishments wishing their written plan to qualify as a “robust” plan by the  FSIS inspection staff have additional requirements that must be covered in their written plan. See the general FSIS humane handling pageFSIS Compliance Guide for a Systemic Approach to the Humane Handling of Livestock  and FSIS Directive 6900.2 for further information.

The written livestock humane handling plan should describe what is done in the establishment to assure compliance with the HMSA, FMIA, Vermont Statues, and regulations in the humane handling and slaughter procedures.  Below are materials that may help you to put into writing how you comply with the requirements: 

  • The Humane Handling of Livestock and Poultry Guidebook  An easy to understand review of regulatory requirements for humane handling.  It also presents a systematic approach to evaluating humane handling in the establishment.
  • FSIS Compliance Guide for a Systemic Approach to the Humane Handling of Livestock Using a systematic approach for the humane handling of animals is beneficial and best ensures that establishments are meeting the applicable humane handling requirements. 
  • Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines Audit Guide: A Systematic Approach to Animal Welfare - The American Meat Institute's (AMI) 2021 edition of " Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines Audit Guide: A Systematic A approach to Animal Welfare" was written by Temple Grandin, Ph.D. with the AMI Animal Welfare Committee, and is an updated version of Dr. Grandin's Good Management Practices (GMPs) for Animal Handling and Stunning and includes additional official AMIF audits for pig, cattle and sheep slaughter.
  • Guidance on the Writing of a Humane Handling Plan for Livestock - This document was created to help you think about what you actually do in your establishment to comply with humane handling requirements. It also helps to assure you are meeting the minimum requirements to comply with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Vermont Statutes and regulations. As you go through and answer the bolded questions in detail, this should aid in the creation of your written plan. 

Once submitted, your plans will be reviewed and evaluated by the VT Secretary of Agriculture or designee.  We ask that you submit your plan as soon as possible.  Receipt of your commercial slaughter license is contingent on approval of your written plan.

Please submit your written humane livestock handling plan to:

            Secretary of Agriculture

            VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets

            116 State St.

            Montpelier, VT  05620

Or by Fax to: Attn. Meat Inspection (802)828-5983
Or by email

As stated in 6V.S.A. 3306 (a) No person may engage in intrastate commerce in the business of buying, selling, preparing, processing, packing, storing, transporting, or otherwise handling meat, meat food products, or poultry products, unless that person holds a valid license issued under this chapter.

If you are an establishment that has a federal grant of inspection from the USDA FSIS as a commercial slaughter facility, please be aware that there is a requirement to submit any documentation received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) related to violations of the Federal Humane Slaughter Act and rules adopted thereunder, to the VT Secretary of Agriculture or designee within five days of receipt of such violation.