This week has been a nightmare on so many levels that I wouldn't even want to explain, but there have been some definite highlights.
Yesterday, I went down to the Georgia Department of Agriculture around noon to discuss the current state of poultry processing for 20,000 birds and less. Among the attendees besides myself was Deputy Commissioner Terry Colman, Natalie Adan from the Consumer Protection Division, Billy Caudell from the Animal Industry Division, Dr. Rex Holt from the Meat Inspection Division, and to my surprise, Alice Rolls from Georgia Organics.
I assumed going in to this meeting that Georgia had already started writing their own regulations above and beyond what the USDA already had in place, but I was way off. They hadn't written anything at all. My impression was they wanted to help keep the small farmers legal and help them succeed. The problem is that they make it very confusing and many people get frustrated by the whole process and stop. Dr. Holt explained the process that needs to happen in order so that nothing would fall through the cracks. This is as of today so things could change at a moments notice.
Here is the process:
- Contact the USDA prior to building so that your plans meet their specs.
- We will need to contact the GDA (Georgia Dept. of AG) Animal Industry Division and have them come out to assist and then inspect our means of disposing of animal waste (unused/unsellable pieces of the chicken, any dead animals, etc...)
- Our means of disposal will be composing. From speaking to Billy Caudell, he wants to make sure that whoever is doing the composing knows what they are doing and that the "facility" is adequate to do so safely. It just seems like it could be an unnecessary expense in the name of "being compliant".
- Once built and approved through the USDA, they must be contacted every time we plan to process. There must be a USDA official on site in order for us to sell the processed birds to the public.
- Now the other half of this. We have to contact the GDA (Georgia Dept. of AG) Consumer Protection Division to inspect our market to make sure we have an acceptable facility, ie.. freezer, cooler, clean walls and counter tops, etc.. in order to sell from the market on our farm.
Seems like a lot of steps, but knowing this stuff up front will certainly help curb any surprises. I hope. Anyway, it seems much closer now than it did just a week ago.
"The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win." ~Roger Bannister