Speaking of farmers markets...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Buster52, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Geronimo Oklahoma
    I am getting ready to start selling meat birds at one and didn't want to hijack the other thread (I know... first time for everything. [​IMG]) but have need of information and advice.

    In my state, the ag department allows me to sell up to 1,000 birds without inspection per year (or 250 turkeys). All I needed to do was register with them and I have already done that. The sole requirement besides that is that the birds must be sold live, then butchered after the sale.

    The whole thing has thrown the market organizers (it is a fairly new farmers market) for a loop, as I'm the first person to sell meat of any kind. They want to be conscientious and follow all the rules, so they checked with the health department. Which has its own set of rules, it turns out. It requires the meat be kept in a licensed freezer unit if the meat is sold on site. No way I can justify that expense in this startup operation of mine.

    So, I've decided I will use the other two options allowed by the ag department... allow the customer to pick the birds up at the farm, or deliver directly to the customer's home, after they have been butchered. My plan is to bring a few live demo birds (turkeys, ducks, and chickens) to the market more as a draw than anything else. Beats sitting in my booth with just a bunch of flyers. [​IMG]

    I'm just wondering how you experienced farmers market folks deal with these issues, if you have them. Based on a workshop I recently attended put on by the USDA and the Oklahoma ag department, I'm guessing you do. The class, run by a state regulator, became something of a free for all, as one vendor after another expressed frustration over the conflicting rules between departments and markets.

    General advice on starting up with a farmers market would also be appreciated.

    Also, does the plan I have laid out sound like a workable one?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    South Central KY
    I think your plan is a good one. They've written the rules to pretty much jam things up, haven't they? You have to sell the birds live and then butcher them. But to sell them at the Farmer's market, they have to be in a freezer. So that's not selling live and then butchering, if they're already in a freezer, do they explain how that works? Good grief.

    And, an approved freezer to take along, a generator to run it....yeah, way too expensive.

    Having a few demo birds on site, so people can advance purchase them, then you go home and butcher, and deliver, (for a fee, I presume? For time and fuel?) or call the customers to come and pick up their purchase, sound workable.

    I can't sell poultry meat at all here, unless I sell it in the form of a live bird, that the customer picks up live, and either butchers themselves, or takes to a processor. It's just too expensive, and too far away, to go to the one and only processor in the state. The mobile processing unit is a joke, it would cost me just as much, but I'd still have to do all the work. KY chooses not to honor the Federal exemption for small producers. There are several commercial processors (Tyson, Perdue, and a few others) in the state, and the rules to keep the little guys out of the competition are strict.

    There are processors for other meat, beef and pork, that are closer, I can pay extra for USDA processing and resale labels, if I decide to raise beef and/or pork for sale. But I still would not be allowed to process them myself, for sale.

    To follow the regs here, for selling eggs at the Farmer's market, I'd have to buy (minimum orders are 150-250 carton bales, depending on style of carton) UNPRINTED cartons, ( can't buy over-run or misprinted cartons, and re-label them, that would be a lot less expensive. By about half) label them myself, have an approved cooler to keep the eggs in, and then I might be able to get $2.00 doz. I'd have to sell 200 dozen to break even on the cartons and other expenses, then I'd be about out of cartons.

    So egg sales are at the farm only. I can't even sell pickled eggs, because eggs are considered a hazardous food.
     
  3. scubaforlife

    scubaforlife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My state allows on property sales just like yours, its a federal thing. I have to go to a state ag inspected facility to have the birds processed for off property sales. I then freeze the birds, put them in a cooler and freeze a thermometer into a block of ice. The temp in my cooler always reads below freezing [​IMG]

    I suggest you either a.) ignore the law and point one agency at another and tell them to call you when it is worked out or b.) sell the poultry as pet food (dogs love it) or c.) butcher onsite at the farmers market
     
  4. trimpy

    trimpy Out Of The Brooder

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    I suggest you either a.) ignore the law and point one agency at another and tell them to call you when it is worked out or b.) sell the poultry as pet food (dogs love it) or c.) butcher onsite at the farmers market

    option C all the way [​IMG]
     
  5. eKo_birdies

    eKo_birdies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:haha i love it!! i agree... i vote for C! show those folks what they are missing!![​IMG]
     
  6. slc

    slc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Why not set up as a CSA share program? Farmer's market could be a place to market your share program. People pay up front for what ever you set up as a share. A share could be a chicken every other week delivered or for pickup, include other value added things like eggs etc. People get on a list and pay for say a 6 month share. Figure whatever price for the items you guarantee them each week/month. They pay you upfront and you just deliver or make available for pickup as needed. You could bring a live animal for display to draw attention to your CSA booth. We have a CSA here that does just that. They don't sell the actual poultry but you sign up or pre-purchase a share of what ever they offer per month. Some markets also allow sampling. You bring cooked samples to offer potential customers so they taste what they are signing up to get each week/month. People like to taste or see what they are buying and if the product isn't really there you need a stand in to show them what they will be getting.
     
  7. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Geronimo Oklahoma
    Quote:Actually, I don't take the actual bird to the market. Just a demo bird. One of the big guys I bought from a friend recently, and a BR turk.

    When I was talking to the guy in charge of meat inspection for the state, I read between the lines that they know this isn't really practical, but a rule nonetheless. Say Saturday I'm at the market and sell a bird. I can then go home and butcher it, then deliver it, or have the customer come pick it up at a discount. Transporting the birds will be built into the price. Or, I may sell it and butcher it one week, then deliver it when I have enough to make a trip into town worthwhile. Or I may actually sell the birds weeks before they are ready to process.

    But the important things are records, and that I actually have some live birds around the place if someone comes out to check to make sure I'm following exact steps of the process.

    Which was made clear to me, reading between the lines on the phone, nobody actually does. [​IMG]

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  8. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Geronimo Oklahoma
    Quote:That's not a bad idea. Do you do that? What are the pitfalls of a CSA? Seems like it would be a lot of pressure to deliver.

    And are there any books or other information sources out there on setting up a CSA, or on how to work a farmers market?

    Thanks to all for the help. It is always appreciated.
     
  9. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    South Central KY
    Quote:Actually, I don't take the actual bird to the market. Just a demo bird. One of the big guys I bought from a friend recently, and a BR turk.

    When I was talking to the guy in charge of meat inspection for the state, I read between the lines that they know this isn't really practical, but a rule nonetheless. Say Saturday I'm at the market and sell a bird. I can then go home and butcher it, then deliver it, or have the customer come pick it up at a discount. Transporting the birds will be built into the price. Or, I may sell it and butcher it one week, then deliver it when I have enough to make a trip into town worthwhile. Or I may actually sell the birds weeks before they are ready to process.

    But the important things are records, and that I actually have some live birds around the place if someone comes out to check to make sure I'm following exact steps of the process.

    Which was made clear to me, reading between the lines on the phone, nobody actually does. [​IMG]

    Thanks for the advice.

    Ya know, that's not the first time I've heard of state officials letting folks know, in subtle ways, that they understand that the rules are ridiculous. I'm originally from OK, so none of this surprises me at all. [​IMG]

    At least in OK there's something workable, unlike here in KY. They really go the extra mile to make things more difficult, here. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  10. slc

    slc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Upper Michigan
    Quote:That's not a bad idea. Do you do that? What are the pitfalls of a CSA? Seems like it would be a lot of pressure to deliver.

    And are there any books or other information sources out there on setting up a CSA, or on how to work a farmers market?

    Thanks to all for the help. It is always appreciated.

    I don't currently but I'm researching the possibility. I know folks from a local CSA that offer poultry. The advantage of CSA is that it is a pre-pay system. The farmer sets the demand by deciding how many shares he/she can or wants to manage and then raising the birds needed to satisfy the shares plus extras to cover losses etc. If there is more demand than you want to handle you put them on a wait list for the next round. You start small, say 5 shares or customers and raise a smaller number to get a feel of the process.

    You decide the length of your subscription interval, annual, quarterly, monthly etc. You decide how people pay, total upfront, monthly payments etc. You add up prices for each item in the share and price each share to that total. Extra birds left after subscriptions can be offered to those on the wait list or be sold individually. If you manage it right you always know how much demand before you start and account for extras. It's kind of like they are paying you to raise them as a shareholder in your business for an amount of time. If you can only legally provide off farm sales then you make them pick it up. Since the subscription is a contract and you get the money upfront you can define what happens if they don't show up. If you can only sell live animals, that works too. Since the share is a part ownership ie they are basically stockholders, they already own that product in the eyes of most State's laws. Please check on your state. Some states are getting tricky to regulate CSA's. Typically an owner has the right to the product of the animal they co-own. It's purchased way before slaughter. You might get away with "making processing available" by offering a check box on the contract. If you offer it free (but secretly build it into the total share price) you aren't getting paid for a slaughtered animal, its the owners choice. Check your local laws though, not all States interpret it the same.

    Look online for CSA's and see how they set up their shares and how they price for some good insight.

    Some links to get you started.

    Meat CSA document
    http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/food_and_agriculture/csa-for-meat-eggs.pdf

    Examples of a meat csa's:
    http://www.naturesharmonyfarm.com
    http://www.couleeviewfarm.com/CSA.html

    CSA management and income document
    http://www.cias.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/rb68.pdf

    Marketing poultry
    http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Marketing.html
     

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