Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Connecticut Can, Why not Ontario?

Small flock poultry farmers in Connecticut ("CT") USA can now do on-farm slaughter and sell these birds at retail sales, such as farmer's markets, household consumers, restaurants, hotels, and boarding houses.

Somehow, the US system evolved so that there are neither State nor Federal inspected poultry processing plants in Connecticut.  That sad fact has hindered all Connecticut poultry farmers, both big and small, for some time, because the CT poultry was not an "approved food source".  That meant individuals could purchase their poultry meats for home consumption, but you couldn't sell them at retail, and they couldn't be used in restaurants and other food service establishments.

The Connecticut Public Act 10-103 "AN ACT CONCERNING FARMS, FOOD AND JOBS".  Now isn't that a novel twist.  Politicians who actually understand that local food production helps farms, and creates jobs.

Further on in the announcement, the Connecticut government states, "More and more consumers are demanding foods they perceive as more sustainable and local."  It is clearly evident again, that Connecticut politicians and bureaucrats are listening to their people.  Why or why do we have so many deaf and dumb politicians in Canada?  In Canada, they can't hear (or don't want to hear) what the people are saying, and they refuse to speak up on behalf of Canadians.

This Connecticut law includes "... livestock food products, including meat, milk, cheese and other dairy products..." and just about all other farm products of Connecticut, and baked goods derived from those Connecticut products.

For example, canning of farm produce can be done on-farm without public health inspection, provided the farmer has passed a safe food handling and/or safe food processing course, the farm house water used is fit to drink, the canning area is restricted during the canning process, and each container is labelled "Not prepared in a government inspected kitchen".

Small flock poultry operations are defined as farms that raise up to 5,000 turkey or 20,000 poultry of all species per year.  That certainly contrasts with Ontario, as well as every other province & territory in Canada where the mighty #ChickenMafia have a death grip on the throats of every Canadian; buy from the #ChickenMafia or die!

In Connecticut, if a small flock farmer wants to slaughter his own birds on-farm, then the Connecticut Department of Agriculture will inspect the on-farm slaughter facilities to the "Poultry Products Inspection Act ["PPIA"] and any applicable provision of the Code of Federal Regulations, including, but not limited to, any health, sanitary and safety related provision."

The Connecticut notice  states that:
"Participating facilities must have an approved plan for the disposal of liquid waste and an approved plan for the disposal of offal. The processor must have an approved water supply and test the water supply every six months, or, if operated seasonally, test the water supply no more than 30 days prior to the date processing starts. (Required water testing is not applicable to municipal water supplies.) Participants also must have an approved site bio-security protocol and have a written system of product labeling and record keeping facilitating product tracking and trace-back to the slaughter/process facility."
Seems like reasonable requirements to avoid complaints from neighbours, and from creating a food health hazard.

If you pass the State inspection, and you meet the exemptions from continuous USDA inspections during slaughter (per PPIA) , then your slaughter operation "shall be designated as approved food sources for household consumers, restaurants, hotels, and boarding houses."

That "approved food source" designation means no hassles from Public Health Inspectors who happen to see some of these products downstream in the food chain (eg. store shelves, restaurants, etc.).

The Connecticut note also states:

"The inspection follows the requirements of the PPIA, including an audit of the HACCP system and an evaluation of the sanitation, sanitary practices, food-handling equipment design and construction, handling of animals, record-keeping, and water supply."
OK, so you're a farmer raising poultry, and slaughtered your own birds for decades.  However, you're not familiar with government documents, or never heard of HACCP?

Again, no problem!  Connecticut has got you covered.  The State Ag Extension Office offers a safe poultry slaughter course to assist producers with designing and implementing a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. A HACCP system is required under the PPIA and the Connecticut Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program.

Just to be sure that all State bureaucrats fully understand, the notice states: "Sales of poultry directly to the final consumer at the farm or at a farmer’s market via order are not affected by this program. Those producers who market directly to the final consumer are able to continue this practice."

What if a Connecticut farmer is too small or can't afford to run his own slaughter operation?

No problem!  Connecticut has thought of everything.

Connecticut is funding the designing and building a mobile poultry processing plant on wheels (ie. a highway transport trailer specially converted to a poultry abattoir) by the Connecticut Poultry Association ("CPA").  The CPA will identify two sites, one at the East and one at the West of Connecticut, where this mobile slaughter plant can be parked, and hooked up to local electrical and water supply.  The farmers bring their birds to this mobile site, the birds are processed, and the farmers return home with their birds ready for sale at their farm gate, Farmer's Markets, or at retail.

No fuss, no muss.

Even under-serviced areas and remote farms can get easily serviced by a poultry abattoir in CT.

Figure1:  Comparison of Connecticut USA to Ontario Canada
Is there a fair comparison between Connecticut and Ontario?  Let's see.

Ontario is about 64 times bigger on sq. km. basis that Connecticut ("CT"), and the dimensions are about 10.9 times greater on a geometric average of length and width.

On population, Ontario is 3.6 times bigger than CT.  However, population density of CT is 20.4 times bigger than ON.

With two mobile abattoir sites strategically located in CT, the farthest a farmer would have to drive would be 70 km., which seems reasonable.

Assuming the same sq. km per mobile site for Ontario, we would need 128 mobile site locations scattered throughout Ontario.

Assuming that the mobile abattoir crew would do all birds at a site in one day, a second day to clean up, and a third day on the road to travel to the next site & set up there, that is a 3 day cycle per site.

If farmers are doing the typical quota-based 6.5 poultry grow cycles per year, they will need the mobile abattoir to come by their area for each of those poultry grow cycles.  Therefore there are 6.5 cycles per year x 128 sites x 3 days/site= 2,496 days of work to be done in all of Ontario.  Assuming 350 work days per year for each mobile abattoir, we would therefore need 7 mobile abattoirs trailers for serving all of Ontario.

On a population basis, CT has one mobile abattoir for every 1.8 million people.  For a similar ratio, ON would need 7 mobile abattoirs to serve our 12.8 million population in Ontario.  Interesting that we get the same answer, no matter which way we calculate it!

So 7 mobile abattoirs for Ontario will do the trick.

Well, Premier Wynne, how soon do we get the Ontario Meat Regs. modified so it matches CT's new law?

When will OMAF's RED Rural Economic Development cheque for the 7 abattoir trailers be presented to newly formed regional CO-Op's who will be offered first opportunity to run these 7 mobile abattoirs?

How about putting out a RED Request for Proposals where any group can apply for a defined geographical region based on Census Divisions ("CD") and population with those chosen CD's which totals at least 5,000 sq. km. that they would service.

I suggest the following deal between OMAF and these 7 Co-Ops to be formed for managing the 7 abattoir trailers:
  • OMAF will pay for the trailer plus some startup funding and personnel training for each regional trailer and all of the 18 or so sites that each trailer will service.
  • In return, OMAF will get a share of the top-line gross revenue per bird processed until OMAF's costs are re-paid.
  • After that, the Co-op that runs each trailer is on their own.
  • If the Co-OP goes bankrupt, or fail to serve the area as promised, the trailer gets returned to OMAF, and a new RED Request for Proposal is advertised for that same CD district.
OMAF helps it get started, but it isn't a hand-out.

It's giving the farmers and the people of Ontario a temporary hand up.

I have already contacted the CT Poultry Association, asking for info on their mobile abattoir design.  I'll send you a copy when I get it, Premier Wynne.  Anything to help, eh?

*  *  *
P.S. A dip of the chicken wing to Dave & Brenda Linton who forwarded me the link to this interesting news item about the new law in Connecticut.  Thanks

We welcome all similar news items, rumors that need debunking, accolades, complaints, questions, etc. We're not proud, we'll take everything we can get.

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