Sales of Poultry and Rabbit Meat in Maryland

As more individuals become interested in producing their own meat from home raised birds and rabbits, questions arise about regulations for marketing those products to Maryland buyers. Please review the following information taken from federal regulations, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture.  This should answer the most common questions regarding processing meat that is to be sold to the public.

“Federal law allows the slaughter/processing for intrastate sale of rabbits and 20,000 poultry of a producer's own production annually without continuous inspection by USDA/FSIS. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) regulations do not consider rabbits and poultry slaughtered under these exemptions to be an approved source so they can only be sold directly to consumers on the farm.

 Producers that participate in the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s voluntary Poultry and Rabbit On-Farm Processing Training program and receive certification will be considered an approved source by DHMH and can sell anywhere intrastate (restaurants, retailers, farmer’s markets).  Additional licenses from DHMH or local health departments are not required other than sales at a farmer’s market which requires the DHMH Mobile Farmer’s Market license.  Both parts and whole poultry and rabbits certified by this program are allowed to be sold. Meat cannot be ground.

 The program requires: one person from each facility to attend MDA training, follow basic requirements of the program, and allow access by MDA to conduct inspections. Producers that are not following the requirements at time of inspection will be notified of the non-compliances, given time to make corrections and subject to a follow up inspection by MDA. Product that is not in compliance may be retained and disposal required if adulterated or corrections cannot be made. Continued failure to meet the basic requirements or denial of access to MDA for inspection will be grounds for certification revocation. Participation in this program does not guarantee compliance with other federal, state or local requirements (ex. Zoning, Environmental).”[1]

Common Questions

Can I sell meat from birds and/or rabbits raised and processed by me on my farm:

Directly to the consumer?

YES. Direct farm sales of poultry and rabbits raised and processed by the grower are permitted.. 

At a farmer’s market?

YES, if you have certification through the MDA’s Poultry and Rabbit On-Farm Processing Training. A Producer’s Mobile Farmer’s Market License issued by MD DHMH is still required.

NO, if you do not have the certification.  

 

Can I sell meat from birds and/or rabbits raised by me and processed by me using rented equipment:

Directly to the consumer?

YES. Direct farm sales of poultry raised and processed by the grower are permitted.

At a farmer’s market?

YES, if you have certification through the MDA’s Poultry and Rabbit On-Farm Processing Training.  A Producer’s Mobile Farmer’s Market License issued by MD DHMH is still required.

NO, if you do not have the certification.  

 

Can I sell meat from birds and/or rabbits raised by me and processed by someone else on my farm:

Directly to the consumer?

NO.  Poultry processed at a custom exempt operation cannot be re-sold. Processors who are certified through MDA’s Poultry and Rabbit on-Farm Processing program are prohibited from slaughtering for other producers. 

At a farmer’s market?

NO.  Poultry processed at a custom exempt operation cannot be re-sold. Processors who are certified through MDA’s Poultry and Rabbit on-Farm Processing program are prohibited from slaughtering for other producers. 

 

Can I sell meat from birds and/or rabbits raised by me and processed by someone else on their property:

Directly to the consumer?

YES, but only if that facility is a USDA continuously federally inspected plant that provides you with the appropriate label. An On Farm Home Processing License is required for storage if you are not MDA certified. 

NO, if not a USDA inspected facility with continuous inspection. Poultry processed at a custom exempt operation cannot be re-sold. Processors who are certified through MDA’s Poultry and Rabbit on-Farm Processing program are prohibited from slaughtering for other producers.  You cannot have your poultry slaughtered by a federally exempt MDA certified facility.

At a farmer’s market?  

YES, but only if processor is a USDA federally continuously inspected plant that provides you with the appropriate label.  A Producer’s Mobile Farmer’s Market License issued by MD DHMH is still required.  An On Farm Home Processing License is required for storage if you are not MDA certified.  

NO, if not a USDA inspected facility with continuous inspection. Processors who are certified through MDA’s Poultry and Rabbit on-Farm Processing program are prohibited from slaughtering for other producers.  You cannot have your poultry slaughtered by a federally exempt MDA certified facility.  Poultry processed at a custom exempt operation cannot be re-sold.

 

Special thanks to MDA’s Food Quality Assurance Program manager Deanna Baldwin for her review and contribution to this article. 

For further information regarding the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s voluntary Poultry and Rabbit On-Farm Processing Training and certification program or questions about regulations, please contact:

 Deanna Baldwin

Food Quality Assurance Program

(410) 841-5769
Deanna.Baldwin@maryland.gov

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