Jun 24, 2012 - By Chris Sherrard, RivertonEditor:
In reading Jack Lee's complaint of the Department of Agriculture's poultry processing rules creating "Poultry Pirates,"I felt compelled to respond. For the record, the State of Wyoming has never allowed farmers to process up to 1,000 birds and said it was legal under sanitary conditions. The USDA Wholesome Poultry Act was started in 1957. The days of Grandma butchering chickens with an ax on a tree stump and selling them have been gone a long time ago.
With the vast knowledge that people are wanting to know where their food comes from it is only natural that our legislators have been bombarded with people demanding their voices be heard. The state, realizing it needs to have its own rules, came together with the USDA as equal status and together became The Food Safety Rule in 2009.
There are reasons these rules are put in place --- to protect the fine people of this state. If it was OK for every Tom, Dick and Harry to process chickens for sale without any sanitary guidelines, then why is it mandated for beef, sheep, pig and goat slaughterers? Let's just all bypass the meat plants, and everyone and their dog could sell raw meat without any liability. What a can of worms.
Why should it be any different for chickens? Whether you want to admit it or not Mr. Lee, not everyone has the same standards of "clean" and sanitary. No one is telling you that a group of neighbors can't get together and butcher unlimited amounts of poultry. But it is for your personal freezer only. I have butchered chickens in all kinds of weather, freezing cold that warranted building a bonfire, hot, windy days, and of course rain, and then there were flies. Is this the sanitary that you are talking about?
I have personally been in an occupation that requires yearly state inspections for 40 years. I pay for licenses and have certain rules and regulations that are governed by the state. When I decided to take my business to my home I guess I should have told my 200-plus clients that I would be happy to give them hair care service at my kitchen table, wash their hair at my kitchen sink, bent over of course, and not to worry if my lighting was not quite adequate, but I would definitely charge them the same price that I was getting when I worked in town.
There have always been "chicken pirates" and always will be, but this basically comes down to money. You poultry pirates want to make a fast buck without any accountability. The state didn't turn you into chicken pirates. It was the choice you made. You had options. You just didn't want to spend the money.
You want to bully the system and make them conform to your way of thinking. Good luck with that.
Your comment that a certified facility on the backs of 1,000 chickens is ludicrous. Every person in this state can raise up to 1,000 birds. and now that there are two facilities to process them in you have no excuse for under-the-table sales. As far as New Mexico rules allowing poultry slaughter, you did not mention if the mobile slaughter unit was enclosed or not. That makes a big difference. And who cares what New Mexico does? That's their state. I suppose if you get caught speeding you can avoid a ticket by telling the officer "They let me drive faster in Montana."
Those of you who might be interested in Wyoming's poultry rules can go online into Wyoming Poultry and Poultry Product Exemptions, and see for yourself or call Dean Finkenbinder, manager of Consumer Health Services, at 307-777-6587.
So to all you poultry pirates, keep watching your back, never knowing when your chickens can be confiscated, a hefty fine or even imprisonment could occur. I was pretty naive about our rules and regs until I started getting on the Internet and seeing for my self and not listening to what I was hearing. I for one don't want to play that game anymore and would rather work with the ones in authority than always looking over my shoulder. The state knows who you are and they will be doing their jobs. Hope it's worth it.
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