- Animals: poultry
- Animal Production: feed formulation, free-range, grazing management, manure management, pasture renovation, housing
- Crop Production: food product quality/safety
- Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, risk management
- Soil Management: composting
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public policy
Demand for local, sustainably-produced poultry is increasing. Access to affordable, legally-sanctioned poultry processing will enable new and existing producers to profitably diversify their farm enterprises and provide healthful, safe products to consumers. Producers are poised to meet this demand but need training to navigate the regulatory and food safety requirements to use MPPUs for on-farm slaughter and processing. MPPUs offer a cost-effective means to address this need and a MA pilot project involving 3 farms in 2008 generated over $51,500 in direct poultry sales in one year. Permitting requires stringent producer training in safe food handling, sanitation operating procedures; wastewater and solid waste management processing; humane slaughter; flock health and disease management; equipment operations, maintenance, and repair; and marketing. Working with state regulators we will define content and develop five instructional guides and a self-certification DVD covering regulations, operations, and replication to be shared throughout the Northeast. We will convene four regional producer groups in Massachusetts and provide workshops emphasizing practical skills training to 75+ producers as part of the permitting eligibility process. Producer information will be augmented by a regional Poultry Producers Listserv and an informational website housing all training materials. Participants will develop plans to construct and/or share use of additional MPPUs. Business plans for small-scale poultry production and shared use of a MPPU will be developed to assess profitability at different levels of production, attracting new producers to strengthen, expand, or diversify their operations. Outreach, Training, Education in Small-Scale Poultry Processing and Production in Massachusetts.
Performance targets from proposal:
Of the 125 small-scale poultry producers who initially enroll in this project, 75 will complete regulatory and practical skills training and implement new production, processing, and food safety practices on their farms; at least 45 will increase market access, profits, and complete the legal requirements to process poultry using a licensed Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (MPPU) within two years.