Texas Pastured Poultry crisis

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This post appeared on the YahooGroups Pastured Poultry Discussion group several days ago. This proposal is regarded as a serious threat to small scale poultry producers in Texas. For more info go to:


Once you get to that message you can access the archives to read the responses and the many follow up posts which have appeared over the past few days.

: "lmagedson" Date: Sun Mar 18, 2001 5:53am Subject: Pasture Poultry Crisis in Texas

Forwarded message with permission of author............

I am sending you this Email to make you aware of something that is happening in the state of Texas that will shut down most of the pastured poultry producers with regard to "off farm" sales of pastured poultry. This does NOT affect pastured poultry that must be USDA inspected for sale from retail stores. Pastured poultry for sale from retail stores has been and will continue to be subject to USDA inspection. I have recently been in phone contact with a knowledgeable source in the Meat Safety Assurance Division of the Texas Dept of Health(TDH). He tells me that the Texas Dept of Health regulations are in the process of being changed to totally eliminate the small producers poultry inspection exemption for Texas. This change is happening because TDH attorneys have issued an opinion that the TDH regulations are in conflict with the Texas statute (Texas Meat and Poultry Inspection Act). The only way to stop this from happening is to get the Texas statute, Meat and Poultry Inspection Act, changed to specifically permit a small producers inspection exemption. The change that is needed is the addition of language that permits TDH to implement the small producers inspection exemption provided for in the federal statute. We currently have TDH regulations that implement a version of the federal small producers inspection exemption and have been operating under these TDH regulations in Texas for the past few years. But that inspection exemption will be eliminated as soon as the pending regulation changes are published. It will be illegal to process even ONE chicken for sale off the farm when this regulation change is published. He could not give me a publication date for the regulation change. But he did say that during the public comment phase of the change process, that his office would be the one to answer any comment on this change. And that their response will simply be that the TDH regulations are in conflict with the Texas statute (Meat and Poultry Inspection Act) per their attorneys' ruling. TDH did not seem to be hostile to the small producers exemption; just complying with the TDH attorneys ruling. I would speculate that the TDH management, at least in the past, has not been hostile to a small producers exemption since they incorporated it into the TDH regulations several years ago.

This situation has been confirmed by another source. The TDH meat inspector management group was briefed on the change in a meeting in Austin earlier in March.

Apparently the only way to stop the small producers inspection exemption from being totally eliminated in the state of Texas is to get the Legislature to add language to the Texas Meat and Poultry Inspection Act to specifically permit a small producers inspection exemption, presumably the same provisions as the federal statute small producers inspection exemption. The Texas Legislature is in session now and could act on changing the Texas statute. The Texas Legislature is only in session every two years. If we miss this opportunity to get the law changed, there will not be another opportunity until the next session of the legislature in 2003.

This is the situation here in Texas, but not many people are aware of it since the regulation change is not in the public review phase yet.

I am in contact with the local pastured poultry producers that I am aware of, and they are all sending letters to and calling their state legislators. One will be making a visit to Austin to meet with whoever will see him.

Is there any way you could help me in getting this information to pastured poultry producers in the state of Texas? Also, anyone who is interested in preserving their ability to buy pastured poultry from local farmers may be interested in weighing in on the issue with their state representatives and state senators. We need to encourage everyone interested to write, call and visit their state representative and state senator to encourage them to support and/or sponsor the legislation necessary to include the small producers inspection exemption in the Texas Meat and Poultry Inspection Act. I can provide more information in the form the correspondence that I am sending to my state legislators. It includes a letter stating the situation and making an appeal to change the statute as well as excerpts from the federal statute, Texas statute, and TDH regulations.

Changing the Texas statute to enact the federal small producer poultry inspection exemption is the right thing to do for many reasons, some of which are: 1. Good for the consumer - as prescribed in the federal statute, the small producers exemption does not constitute a threat to public health and it makes safe, ultrahigh quality and nutrition poultry available to consumers 2. Good for agriculture - encourages small scale sustainable agriculture 3. Good for family farms - promotes and encourages rapidly vanishing family farms 4. Good for the environment - reduces the accumulation and concentration of massive amounts of poultry processing byproducts and waste that create disposal problems and have adverse environmental impact

If this regulation change goes through and all pastured poultry sold off farms must be processed at a USDA inspected facility, it will add approximately $2.00 or more to the cost of each and every chicken, dependent on transportation distances involved for each producer. That assumes (big assumption) the continued availability of a USDA inspected poultry processing facility in north central Texas. This level of cost increase would either put the producer out of profitable business if absorbed or put the price of the product out of range of many consumers who buy direct off the farm.

Thanks in advance for your work in support of small scale sustainable agriculture, family farms and specifically pastured poultry.

Robert Rehoboth Ranch, Robert and Nancy Hutchins Family 2238 County Road 1081, Greenville, TX 75401 (903) 450-8145 Email rhutchins@f... Website http://www.rehobothranch.com Rehoboth...For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. Gen 26:22

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Replies Author Date 6936 Restaurant Egg Sales Allan Balliett Sun 3/18/2001 6950 Re: Pasture Poultry Crisis in Texas Gerry Thompson Sun 3/18/2001 6965 Re: Pasture Poultry Crisis in Texas

-- Elizabeth (ekfla@aol.com), March 28, 2001


Sounds like the long arm of Tyson, Pilgrim, and a few others is getting into this one. They will do anything, including buying legislators (Remember Mike Espy)to get rid of the competition.

-- melina b. (goatgalmjb1@hotmail.com), March 29, 2001.

Yeah, our local chicken baron, Mr. Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim, was caught distributing $10,000 checks on the Texas house floor to any and all legislators who would take them several years ago. He said he didn't "know" he was doing anything wrong. No charges were filed.

I'm afraid this is a losing battle. I've watched the poultry industry at work for too many years. There is too much money involved.

-- Green (ratdogs10@yahoo.com), March 29, 2001.

Its only a losing battle if everyone gives up....

You know... they laughed when hundreds of students assembled here in Idaho (they did do some awful things) to support the farm bill and protest our legislator's collective fence sitting. But... they got their bill passed.

If this is for real... write, call... go in person if you want. But DO something.

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), March 29, 2001.

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