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Maine poultry industry outgrowing U.S. rules

by 5m Editor
10 May 2005, at 12:00am

AUGUSTA - As Maine farmers successfully begin to rebuild the state&#39;s poultry industry, agriculture officials are working hard to solve a looming crisis in poultry processing. It appears that a number of small farmers are selling their birds, slaughtered on the farm, at farmers markets and other outlets, but those sales are not allowed under U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines. Farmers maintain that such markets are vital to their survival and have been pressing state officials to help out. &quot;It should be viewed as an extension of my farmhouse to the market,&quot; said Nancy Smith, a state legislator and Monmouth farmer. Smith said she raised and marketed 1,200 chickens last year compared to only 40 birds three years ago. &quot;We could easily sell over 2,000,&quot; she told the Legislature&#39;s Agriculture Committee last week. &quot;The market is tremendous and we make money on it.&quot; Smith&#39;s increased poultry sales have tangled her in a web of state and federal meat laws that state officials are attempting to unravel. Maine farmers slaughtering fewer than 1,000 birds on their own farms are allowed to sell them on the premises. A number greater than that requires a federal or state processing facility, as does selling poultry off-premises. No federal facility exists in Maine, and until this spring, no state facility existed, either. <i>Source: Bangor Daily News </i>

5m Editor