In the age of side hustles and diversifying businesses, more livestock producers in Kansas may be considering the logistics of selling their products directly to consumers.
Krista Moore and David Stuhlsatz, from the Kansas Department of Agriculture, provided information on state regulations for selling meat direct to consumers during the Woman Managing the Farm Conference.
Inspections and Labeling
Producers in Kansas can have their animals processed in federal or state inspected processing facilities, so communicating with processing facilities to ensure products are processed and labeled correctly is essential.
“The USDA follows the Federal Meat Inspection Act while in Kansas we follow the Kansas Meat and Poultry Inspection act, so they’re a little bit different even though we follow the same regulations as well” said Moore, Meat and Poultry Inspection Program office manager. “The big difference between federal inspection and state inspection is federal products can be sold or shipped across state lines while state products cannot.”
Moore stresses that producers cannot resell products that have been processed in custom processing plants because inspections are not done by state or federal officials.
“We strongly suggest that you find a USDA facility, just so you don't limit yourself in your target audience,” Moore said.
When it comes to labeling, there are seven features that must appear on meat products - the product name, inspection legend, ingredient statement, handling statement, net weight statement, safe handling instructions and the signature line.
“If a product is not labeled for resale, then you can’t sell that product, and you can’t take that product back to be relabelled,” Moore said. “So it’s important you talk to the locker and let them know your intentions for any animal so they know what they’re supposed to do and label it properly.”
Under Kansas law, producers must be licensed to to engage in business or deal with meat and poultry products.
“If you’re selling directly to the public or you want to get into retail outlets like grocery stores or restaurants, a wholesalers license covers all of that,” Moore said.
The wholesalers license is $25 and runs the whole calendar year. To apply, producers can find the application online at https://agriculture.ks.gov/ and mail it, along with the license fee, to the KDA Manhattan office.
“If you're selling the live animal on the hook, meaning you're selling the whole carcass, a half carcass or a quarter carcass, if you're selling it directly to the end consumer live, you do not need a license,” Moore said. “When you take that animal to a locker plant, it needs to be sold prior to going to the locker.”
Moore also reminds producers looking to sell wholesale they must also register with the health department or department of revenue, and to check for any local,county or state guidelines that may apply to them.
Beyond inspection and licensing requirements, producers also need to be aware of the things compliance officers look for when they visit an operation.
“As far as the facilities, where you store the meat, make sure that they're kept in a sanitary manner,” Moore said. “Proper rodent control, insect control, make sure you’re keeping records. That's what our compliance guys are going to look for when they come out and do a review with you.”
Products must also be kept at proper temperatures, both in storage and when being transported or sold at places like farmers markets.
For those wanting to sell their poultry products, there are several different exemption programs available, said Stuhlsatz, a Meat and Poultry Inspection Program compliance officer.
“There’s two questions I ask,” Stuhlsatz said. “How many birds are you planning on doing this year and who is your target audience or your target market, because that’s going to determine which exemption you qualify for.”
The 1000 bird exemption allows producers to sell up to 1000 birds they process and sell on the farm.
“The big thing with this exemption is even though you don’t have to register with us, and there’s no labeling requirements, you do have to sell these birds from the farm to the end consumer,” Stuhlsatz said.
Producers looking to sell poultry products at farmer markets are required to operate under the 20,000 bird exemption, and are subject to more labeling requirements.
“Your name, address and contact information, and the statement ‘exempt P.L. 90-492,’” Stuhlsatz said. “That’s the federal exemption number for the exempted poultry.”
Products sold under the 20,000 bird exemption cannot be sold across state lines.
Stuhlsatz reminds producers to be diligent in keeping processing facilities clean, regardless of if they’re required to register with that state.
“You are still required to process these birds in a sanitary manner to preclude adulteration and so forth,” Stuhlsatz said. “The worst thing you can do is sell a bird to someone and that person get sick. That can come back on you and could cost you and your farm big.”