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The Quandary

Consumer demand for chickens raised on pasture (not confined) and without added antibiotics is on the rise. Many Georgia farmers want to produce for the growing market yet no legal processing options exist for Georgia’s independent farmers. Currently, a farmer’s only option is to drive the birds out of state to get them processed. This barrier exists for two primary reasons: the lack of food processing infrastructure in the state and prohibitive on-farm processing rules unique to Georgia.

Poultry Feasibility Study Released

Georgia Organics has completed a feasibility analysis looking at a mobile processing unit as well as a fixed-site facility. The goal of this feasibility is to identify solutions to meet the processing needs of Georgia’s independent poultry farmers. The feasibility includes a full regulatory analysis of the current on-farm processing barriers as well as an overview of other solutions, including key regulatory and project contacts. Click here to access the full feasibility.

GDA Releases <1,000 Guideline for On-Farm Processing

In November 2011, the Georgia Department of Agriculture released a guideline allowing up to 1,000 birds to be processed on-farm annually. The guideline details the requirements to process legally on-farm, but also limits where the birds may be sold. Under this guideline, birds may only be sold directly to a consumer – either on-farm or at farmers markets. Birds may not be sold to restaurants, distributors or retail outlets. Click here to read the full guideline.

The State of On-Farm Processing in Georgia

Georgia is unique in its treatment of on-farm processing, compared to most other states. Georgia Organics would like to see legal, economically-viable processing options for Georgia’s independent farmers, including more flexible on-farm processing rules. Click here for a quick legal analysis of on-farm processing in Georgia.

What You Can Do

  • Email Commissioner Gary Black and ask him to support a “path to yes” for on-farm processing – gary.black@agr.georgia.gov
  • Growers – Connect with the new Pastured Poultry Growers Association by contacting gapasturedpoultry@gmail.com
  • Consumers – Vote with your fork! Click here for a list of where to buy pasture-raised birds and support your independent poultry farmer!

Food Safety Research Underway

Georgia Organics is supporting food safety research specifically geared at on-farm processing and pastured-raised birds. The research is being conducted by the University of Georgia’s Dr. Walid Alali. The research is scheduled to be completed and released in 2013. For more information on the study, please contact walali@uga.edu.