Bill passed by Colorado Legislature allows for small poultry producers to sell straight to consumers | TheFencePost.com

Bill passed by Colorado Legislature allows for small poultry producers to sell straight to consumers

Samantha Fox

Small-time chicken producers in Colorado can say goodbye to the middle man.

The Colorado Legislature passed Senate Bill 58, giving more flexibility for small-scale chicken producers and those who make pickled vegetables to sell straight to consumers rather than having eggs or poultry processed by a third party.

For chicken producers, those who sell eggs can now sell up to 250 dozen eggs per month; producers also can slaughter poultry themselves or locally, as long as a farm is limited to 1,000 birds.

"It basically allows smaller producers who raise and slaughter chicken to process themselves or process locally instead of going out of state," said KC Becker, D-Boulder. "That's a good thing, not only for small business because there is a strong focus these days on local foods, so I think there's a strong consumer demand for it."

The consumer interest was the driving force for the bill, Becker said. There is an option for chicken farmers to sell locally, with one less step if they choose.

However, it's unknown how many producers, if any, will take advantage of the new law.

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"It's less about the option and more about the food safety," said Jerry Wilkins of the Colorado Egg Producers. "It really takes the oversight out of the Department of Ag, which is a huge concern of ours because it does allow for food safety to slip, or lack thereof, to slip through the cracks when it comes to this."

Food safety has come into question with the number of recalls lately, including one of 4.6 million pounds of cooked chicken. Pilgrim's Pride recalled products from its Waco, Texas, facility due to potential outside material contamination in the chicken, including plastic, wood, rubber and metal.

Even with the oversight, there is still potential for contamination.

That's where education comes in.

Emily Ibach, director of state affairs for the Colorado Farm Bureau, said the organization followed the bill, but didn't take a side as long as a key component remained on the bill.

"To us, we were simply just following the bill to ensure that the food safety clauses stayed in," Ibach said.

The food safety clause requires producers to take a certified food safety class so they know of the risks and harms that can come from foods.

However, not everyone was convinced a course is enough.

"Quicker to market, I certainly understand that, but with the speed to market also comes some disadvantages," Wilkins said. "There is a higher risk of concern over food safety, so that might be my biggest concern over that, whether it be eggs or poultry."❖

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