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Rule creates 'poultry pirates'

May 20, 2012 - By Jack R. Lee, Riverton

Editor:

Small farmer alert! Wyoming's Department of Agriculture unveiled its new poultry processing regulations at the farmers market conference held in Riverton last weekend. The intent of these changes was to prohibit small farmers from processing and selling any poultry raised on their farms without first building a state-certified poultry processing facility.

Not so long ago, farmers in Wyoming were allowed to grow and process up to 1,000 birds on their farms and sell those birds, as long as processing was done under "sanitary conditions." Farmers still can in many states, including New Mexico, according to NMSU poultry expert, Mr. Del Jimenez, who was invited by WY D of A to speak at the conference.

But our regulators took a much more restrictive position on these same USDA regs which guide states in these matters. So restrictive, in fact, that the only local chicken consumers are likely to see around Wyoming are contraband chicken, because the fact is financing a certified poultry processing plant on the backs of 1,000 chickens isn't feasible, and there are no commercial plants available to farmers in this state.

So with a few keystrokes on the government computer, our Department of Agriculture turned those small farmers that used to sell you Thanksgiving turkeys into poultry pirates facing $1,000 fines. (For you small farmers who wish to know if that's per bird, I encouraged you to contact the fellow who wrote the rule change, Mr. Shane Thompson at 777-5533.)

And how did your Wyoming State Agriculture Board (the guys who are charged with promoting the agriculture community) weigh in on this? Well, based on the minutes of the ag board meetings this year, the issue never came up. Public comments on the rule change? Nope, probably didn't seem important enough to consult the people the WY D of A works for.

If you have a problem with that, I recommend you take it up with Mr. Dean Finkenbinder (dean.finkenbinder)

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