Friday, November 30, 2007

We've hit the big time!

At Touch the Earth Farm, that is. We're officially on the state's radar for turkey sales, which means that today, I received my first telephone call from a state inspector in the Weights and Measures department to schedule an appointment to test and register our scales. Because we've sold turkey and chicken by the pound (regardless of how much, mind you, which is far less than $1000 gross this year, never mind net, we are now in the same category as the resident big chain grocery stores, gas stations, and super stores.

So while our meager poultry sales are exempt from agribusiness butchering standards—i.e. concrete buildings with stainless steel, hot and cold running water, and employee lockers and bathrooms—due to a small farm poultry processing exemption, we are not, it seems, exempt from having to own a legal for trade scale, certified by NTEP and NIST, that is subject to annual licensing fees and inspections. Lovely. Just one more reason why small farms become economically inviable.

Just want to take a moment to plug Joel Salatin's latest book, Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal. Here's a link to his introductory essay, which first appeared in Acres, USA: Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal. You can read a bit about the book at this website and order it from Chelsea Green Publishing by clicking on the icon there.


Christy said...

Wonder how you got on the state's radar? Well, congrats on hitting the big time.

karl said...

yikes, i wonder if there is a loophole that'll allow you to sell by the kilorganic an unit of measure extremely similar to the pound but likely to fluctuate infinitesimally due to changes in barometric pressure?

Christy said...

Do you have the turkeys processed off-site? Can they weigh them for you with their official scale?

sugarcreekfarm said...

We went thru this, too. Our scale inspector turned out to be an extremely helpful guy. He explained everything about the legalities of package labeling to me, gave me his home phone # and email if I had any questions. We had our first scale inspection about 3 years ago, and they've never been back to re-inspect. We just get a renewal form in the mail every year, send in our $9, and we're done.

We weigh our own chickens, but our locker weighs our beef & pork packages for us. So having the processor weigh them should be an option. (But the tricky thing is tare weights with the packaging - chickens all come in the same bag so tare weight is easy. Not so with the beef & pork, which is why we let the locker weigh them. Plus he prints the weights right on the labels for us, which our chicken processor won't do.)

Danielle said...

Thanks for all the comments. The inspector hasn't called back this week, so far.

Weights might be a possibility at the butcher for the pork—I'll definitely check into it, though they didn't weigh them last time.

I wish our inspection fee was only $9; here it's $30 I'm pretty sure. Grrrr.