University of Maryland Extension

On-Farm Food Processing

On-Farm Processing and Starting a Specialty Food Business in Maryland

Brought to you by the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center, a University of Maryland Extension Program:

Direct marketing and value-added processing of your raw farm products are two of the best management strategies for farmers to employ to improve their net profitability.  Value-added products can open new markets, enhance the public’s appreciation for locally produced food and farms, and extend the marketing.

Expanded permitted secondary uses in many counties and new, more defined on-farm processing regulations enacted by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Department of Agriculture, have expanded producer’s options for on-farm processing to include meats, poultry, jams and jellies, baked goods, dairy products, beverages, dried products, sauces, seasonings, and other specialty food products.

However, farmers can get overwhelmed with trying to collect all the necessary information needed to make a wise decision regarding whether on-farm processing or starting a specialty food business is right for their operation.  This module offers information on:

  • Product development, packaging, and labeling
  • Marketing and distribution strategies for specialty food products
  • Health and environmental regulations as they apply to food processing in Maryland
  • Food business planning and business license requirements
  • Resources including suppliers, support organizations, co-packers, trade publications, and a host of other contacts related to specialty food production and marketing.

The Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center, "MREDC," a program of the University of Maryland Extension, provides several resources for on-farm food processors.

The Modules are:

  1. Food Processing at MREDC:   This extensive web module at MREDC provides current information about Food Processing in Maryland including resources for Standards and Licensing, information about Agencies and Jurisdictions, and an informative section for Rules for Specific Food.

  2. Direct Marketing and Value Added Products:  This page in the Alternative Enterprise module of  MREDC provides an overview of the 4 Ps of what is called the marketing mix - product, price, promotion and place - as these things apply to direct marketing value-added products.  Good resources included.  Direct Marketing and Value Added Products is an entrepreneur alternative enterprise for any interested farmer looking to expand operations on their farm.

    Beginning Farmer Success Video

    Value-Added Products

    Meat Marketing Planner: Strategic Marketing for Farm-to-Table Meat

    Farm to Hospital - Selling Farm-Raised Meats and Poultry in Maryland - Fact Sheet 929

    A Producer's Guide to Meat and Poultry Processing Regulations in Maryland - EB 372

    Licenses and Regulation Updates for Farmers Marketing Value-Added Products Directly to Consumers

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