Aggregated Marketing Under Exemption

Originally published in Grit Issue 96 by Mike Badger 

When we talk about scaling up pastured poultry, we first tend to think about scaling individual farms. With meat birds, scaling beyond 1,000 birds under exemption might not be an option due to regulatory obstacles or personal preferences. 

How do we achieve scale while still maintaining the integrity of our smaller, value-added flocks?

Early this year [2017], Pete Kennedy, Farmer to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, sent me several AskFSIS rulings that he had worked on, including the issue of aggregate marketing of exempt poultry. AskFSIS is the USDA’s help desk that allows you to submit regulatory questions and receive official responses. 

Pete asked, “Can independent poultry producers—each one is under the 1000 bird exemption per 9 CFR 381.10—form a marketing firm to handle order taking and payments? Can they do the same via a CSA? Each chicken has the label of the specific farm.” 

Peter Duryea of FSIS responds, “9 CFR 381.10(a)(5) states ‘the distribution by any person solely with such jurisdiction.' So, it is conceivable that a ‘marketing firm’ could be formed to handle the orders for delivery and payment within the state (not interstate). A CSA could be seen as a person (individual, firm, or corporation) distributing the exempt poultry.”

Even though Pete asked specifically about 1,000 birds, the FSIS response did not limit the scale. It only stipulated intrastate delivery and payment for distributing exempt poultry. So, this works beyond 1,000 bird producers, too.

The broader implication to Pete’s question and answer is that there is an opportunity to achieve scale in the community with farmers who can’t or won’t grow beyond a profitable, yet small pastured flock. It only requires a cooperative relationship with a dedicated marketer. 

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