Over the past couple of weeks, I taught two classes for the Coshocton Farmers Market about food safety and regulations for selling different types of home-produced and farm-raised foods. Have you considered raising food on your farm to sell at a market?
The rules and requirements can be different depending on where you intend to sell. One important distinction is the difference between a farm market and a farmers market. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Food Safety, a farm market is a producer operated facility where fresh fruits and vegetables and other food items are offered for sale. A farmers market is a location where producers congregate to offer fresh fruits and vegetables and other food items for sale.
Eggs − In Ohio we can sell eggs from our farms without an inspection or license as long as we maintain 500 or fewer birds. If you decide to sell eggs off your farm, at a farmers market or restaurant or retail store, then requirements are different. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) must inspect your farm. They will make sure water quality is acceptable for washing eggs, the refrigerator is in working order and egg cartons are labeled properly.
Poultry Meat – If a farmer raises fewer than 1,000 birds, they may slaughter and process these birds on farm to sell directly to the consumer. This can be done without an inspection or license. Pleasant Valley Poultry in Baltic is one of the only facilities in Ohio fully inspected, meaning you are legally able to sell the poultry you have processed from this facility at your farm or locations off farm.
Red Meat – There is only one way that red meat can be sold to the public. It has been processed in a federal/state inspected processing facility. The meat package will bear the Ohio inspection identification mark. Facilities with a custom license will provide meat to you labeled “not for sale.” You can enjoy this with your family and even give it away, but you cannot sell these meat cuts.
If you are interested in selling freezer beef, pork or lamb, you can work with a fully inspected processor to have customers pick up meat directing from the processor. In this case there is no license required for the farmer. If you desire to sell cuts out of a freezer from your property, then you are required to have an inspection from ODA and obtain a warehouse license from them. Then you will need to obtain a Mobile Retail Food Establishment (MRFE) license from our local Coshocton Public Health District.
To sell eggs, poultry or red meat at a farmers market, a MRFE license is required. This involves an inspection from our local health department and the cost of the license is $164.
OSU Extension is wrapping up a three-part free webinar series on Starting a Food Business, to help producers wanting to sell home-produced and farm-raised foods directly to consumers and retailers. The last session will be at 7 p.m. March 28 on selling meat and poultry.
OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist Garth Ruff and Ag and Research Law Program Director Peggy Hall will take a look at the economics of selling meat and poultry, meat processing options and labeling and licensing laws. Find details and the registration link at go.osu.edu/foodbusiness. You can also view recordings of past webinars at go.osu.edu/startingafoodbusiness.
Today I will leave you with this quote from John Cleese: “If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?”
Emily Marrison is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 740-622-2265.