Following are some frequently asked questions that will hopefully answer some of the confusion: NOTE: Throughout this article, the use of “his” can mean “his” or “hers”. "Individual" denotes only one.
1. Q: Do all states that have meat inspection programs have to follow federal regulations?
A: Yes. To have a meat inspection program, a state must enforce laws and regulations that are “at least equal to” the federal meat and poultry regulations. In fact, many state meat inspection programs enforce laws that are more restrictive than the federal (or Vermont) statutes. If a state does not have a state meat inspection program, the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service has jurisdiction and enforces the federal meat and poultry laws and regulations for slaughter and processing activities that take place within the state (intrastate).
2. Q: What does “on farm slaughter” mean?
A: In the context of this document, “on-farm slaughter” is a broad term that simply means the activity of killing an animal on a farm, to use the meat and meat food products that are derived from that food animal.
3. Q: What does “on farm slaughter” have to do with exemptions from inspection?
A: “On farm slaughter” can take place on a farm without inspection if the farmer qualifies to use one of the exemptions from inspection. Product produced without inspection is only for the use of the owner, his family, household guests and employees, and cannot be sold. Depending on what criteria the farmer choses to meet, the various exemptions are:
1) the Personal Use Exemption,
2) the “On-farm” Personal Use Exemption”, or
3) the Custom Slaughter Exemption.
“On farm slaughter” can also take place on a farm if there is a state or federally inspected slaughter facility located on that farm. Product produced under inspection can be labelled and sold.
4. Q: Can an individual slaughter animals of his own raising on his farm?
A: Yes. Per 9 CFR 303.1(a)(1), and 6 V.S.A §3305(8), this is permissible if the Personal Use Exemption criteria are met.
5. Q: Can I sell a live animal and then raise it on my farm for the buyer?
A: Yes. The buying and selling of live animals, and contract growing, is governed by laws of other local, state, and federal agencies. However, if you want to have those animals slaughtered on your farm, see Question numbers 6, 7 and 8.
6. Q: Can I sell a live animal to an individual or individuals, and let the buyer(s) slaughter that animal on my farm?
A: Yes. Per 9 CFR 303.1(a)(1), and 6 V.S.A 3311(c), this is permissible if the “On-Farm” Personal Use Exemption criteria are met.
7. Q: Can I sell a live animal to an individual or individuals, and then slaughter the animal for that buyer(s)?
A: This would fall under the definition of a custom slaughterhouse, as a custom slaughter operation. Therefore, this is permissible, if the Custom Slaughter Exemption criteria are met. Note: this activity would not meet the criteria of the "On-Farm" Personal Use Exemption because the farmer who sold the animal cannot perform the slaughter.
8. Q: Can multiple owners own a live animal together?
A: Yes. The buying and selling of live animals, and contract growing, is governed by laws of other local, state, and federal agencies. Also see question 6 related to the slaughter of an animal that has multiple owners.
9. Q: If I sell a live animal to an individual or individuals, what options exist for the buyer(s) to have that animal slaughtered?
A: There are several options:
1. The buyer(s) can bring that animal to his own farm and slaughter it under the Personal use exemption (see criteria for Personal use exemption);
2. The buyer(s) can slaughter the animal on the farm where it was purchased under the “On-farm” Personal use exemption (see criteria for “On-farm” Personal use exemption);
3. The buyer(s) can hire an itinerant slaughterer to slaughter the animal on the farm where it was purchased under the “On-farm” Personal use exemption (see criteria for “On-farm” Personal use exemption); the itinerant slaughterer cannot be the farmer who raised the animal
3. The buyer(s) can bring that animal to a licensed custom slaughter facility;
4. The buyer(s) can bring the animal to any of the state or federally inspected slaughter facilities in the state; or
5. The buyer(s) can have the farmer deliver the animal for them to #3 or #4 above.
10. Q: Are there any requirements for the transportation of finished carcasses?
A: It is recommended that care should be taken to protect the carcasses from becoming contaminated or adulterated by dust, dirt, debris, flies, etc. during transportation.
13. Q: Can an animal that can no longer walk be slaughtered for human food purposes?
A: No, a nonabulatory animal (i.e. a downer) cannot be slaughtered for human food purposes. See official answer from the Food Safety Inspection Service.
14. Q: What are the sanitation requirements in 9CFR 416.1-416.5, and where can I find them or other inspection requirements?
A: The sanitation requirements are a common-sense list of sanitary facility requirements, which if followed, can decrease the risk of foodborne illness and adulteration of product. Some examples include: washable and sanitizeable walls, floors, ceilings; pest control; sufficient plumbing, sewage, and drainage to handle the waste; hot/cold running water that is potable; washable and sanitizeable utensils and equipment. There is also a requirement for recordkeeping.
We encourage you to contact the VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Meat Inspection Section at 802-828-2426 for specific questions or clarification. Also visit our web site at www.vermontagriculture.com.
Please be advised that if you do not follow the guidelines described above, you could be in violation of Title 6 Chapter 204 of the Vermont Statues, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and or the laws of other local, state and federal agencies. Violators of Title 6, Chapter 204 of the Vermont Statues may be liable for a civil penalty up to $1000.00 per violation, and/or subject to other penalties or criminal prosecution.