Selling Rabbit Meat

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by PulpFaction, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. PulpFaction

    PulpFaction Well-Known Member

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    This is kind of a spin off of the other "Selling Rabbits" thread. It inspired me to test the waters as far as rabbit meat goes in my area since, as far as I know, there is no one that sells rabbit meat here.

    Here's what I put on Craigslist with an anonymous e-mail (of course):

    I figure I will base the direction I take things on the response. There is an active farmer's market here. I have read that small farmers are able to sell whole rabbits (not cut up, just dressed) legally to individuals because rabbits fall through a loop hole and are not considered livestock by the USDA, or something like that.

    If that is not the case, I plan on doing the equivalent of cow or goat shares, and selling individuals the live rabbit and then processing it for them, or something...

    Anyway, just testing the market and wondering if any of you have tried this. I think I'm in a good area for it, so we will see.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010
  2. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Never tried that approach, but just wanted to say that I like it very much! Wishing you great success!
     

  3. PulpFaction

    PulpFaction Well-Known Member

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    Sweet, already have someone interested in rabbit meat and bits and pieces for dog food...
     
  4. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Rabbit meat is not regulated by the USDA, but they ARE regulated by the FDA. You need to check with your state health department on the regulations for selling rabbit meat, as each state often has their own laws to abide by. Some states do require ONLY USDA processed meats, while most will require the rabbits to be processed in a state licensed facility... or if processed at home, you must meet the same requirements as a licensed facility. Last time I looked, Alaska was a part of the U.S., and consumer protection is a big issue when it comes to selling meat to the public, so I strongly suggest that you look into it further.

    Pat Lamar
     
  5. PulpFaction

    PulpFaction Well-Known Member

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    Researching...tough to find. At least I have more than a three month lead time before I have fryers ready for the freezer!

    --------------------------

    Ok, so here's what I have come up with:

    Confirmed here: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulation..._states_without_inspection_programs/index.asp

    But that's where I hit a dead end, because there are no USDA processors in Alaska that process rabbits. Does that mean I have to BECOME a USDA processor if I want to sell rabbit meat? OR, does this mean I have to apply for some other kind of exemption.

    I guess all I can do at this point is contact someone on Monday.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2010
  6. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Your quote mentions poultry, but not rabbits. You might want to double-check it.

    Here in WV we have the same problem: the state requires that rabbit meat be processed in a state approved facility but if there are any in the state I sure can't find them.
     
  7. garnetmoth

    garnetmoth Well-Known Member

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    Ive worked in institutional kitchens, but never meat processing. Id guess if you go that route yourself, youd have to have a food service quality kitchen- 3 compartment sink for sanitation, a large enough refrigerator for the meat, and id guess a deep freeze...? Good luck finding the safe and legal way to do it!
     
  8. lonelyfarmgirl

    lonelyfarmgirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It you can find nothing pertaining to rabbit, but can find the info for all other livestock, I would assume there is no law. Here rabbits are exempt. You may, yourself, 'proccess' and sell to customers off the farm only, an unlimited amount of rabbit. You may not take them somewhere to sell, or sell them to a store for resale unless processed in a licensed facility.
     
  9. laughaha

    laughaha Well-Known Member

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    Aren't the kitchens in local firehalls inspected yearly by the state? I know that around here you can rent them out for the day....
     
  10. MBFoley

    MBFoley Active Member

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    I have been researching trying to find out this information for Kentucky as well. So far I have emailed about 2 dozen people, each one replying with another person to check with, about half a dozen of these people have been involved in the local farmers markets, another half dozen are in the KY Dept of Ag. It's cery frustrating and I had to put it on the back burner for a while because I was ready to shoot myself. Heck, I was asking about using a licensed processor to process and just sell the meat myself because I assume I would have to get licensed to process myself and have no desire to become licensed at this time. *shrug* hopefully I'll figure it out. Hopefully you will to, preferably BEFORE you get in trouble for doing it wrong.
     
  11. lisa's garden

    lisa's garden Well-Known Member

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    You might want to check with the county health department where you live. Here we have different rules for different counties. In this county rabbits are considered poultry...ha! Instead of a jack o' lope I have a jack a' roo! I think that the administrators who make the rules have no idea about the real world.

    Good luck with your venture and keep us updated on how it works out!
     
  12. HillBunker

    HillBunker Well-Known Member

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    I'm interested to see where this goes. We're looking to start our rabbitry next year and have a strong section of local farmers markets. It'd be nice to know what our options are for other outlets.
     
  13. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    ALMOST all states allow a certain amount of farm-to-table sales without licensing, but it's wise to find out for certain. Unfortunately, they do not include advertising rabbit meat for sale, as the sales are supposed to be "casual" (e.g., friends & family) so as not to compete with licensed retailers.

    There are two different types of processing plants: USDA inspected plants, and State inspected plants. Most states have both, but some (like Oregon) require only USDA plants. Some counties even differ... in WA state, King County requires all meat intended for resale to be processed in USDA plants, but the rest of the state only requires state inspected facility processing. Texas allows farm-to-table sales even for restaurant and store resale purposes, but the rules require the kitchen/processing area to comply with standards the same as for a state-inspected facility.

    Because rabbits are regulated by the FDA instead of the USDA, then, they DO tend to fall under the same basic general guidelines as for poultry, but this does not apply to the specific processing procedure (e.g., butchering) but rather, the facility/equipment (plant or kitchen) used. The FDA does have specific processing guidelines for rabbits.

    Another area often confusing is the meat INSPECTION.... this is NOT the same as using a USDA or state inspected FACILITY. Rabbit meat inspection is totally voluntary... and VERY expensive. Again, there are USDA inspected meats (the most expensive) and state inspected meats (not always available, but also spendy). Ironically, for both plant and meat inspections, both USDA and state facilities use the same FSIS inspectors, meaning USDA inspectors.

    Sorry, I just don't have all the requirements for all states. Because of all the differences and confusion when it comes to rabbits, even inspectors are sometimes confused, so it is often very difficult to find the right answers when dealing with ag, farm and government authorities.

    Pat Lamar
     
  14. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    "The state of Alaska does not have any regulations written specifically to deal with small- scale poultry processing. All meat inspection in the state is done by the USDA FSIS. Small-scale processors who would normally be exempt under the federal regulations must obtain a state permit and comply with the state requirements for food safety and sanitation which apply to all processors and sellers of food in Alaska."

    Rachel... The way I am reading this is that it applies ONLY to "MEAT inspection," and not the actual processing of rabbit meat. So, it looks to me like you are free to sell it since there are no regulations specifically for small scale processing (e.g., rabbit meat does NOT have to be "inspected" in order to sell it). Thus, those that would ordinarily be exempt would have to be licensed in order to have the MEAT inspected if that is their desire, but it's NOT NECESSARY to have poultry and rabbit meat inspected. See the difference?

    Pat Lamar
     
  15. MoonFire

    MoonFire Well-Known Member

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    hi there! I am in Oregon. My understanding is this:
    you may not sell butchered meats unless you are USDA inspected.
    you may sell live animals for the intent of the being butchered. you may also kill and dress the animal as a free service.
    so the way to do it, again, as is my understanding, and how I do it. I advertise Meat Rabbits for sale. $4 per pound live weight. then when they email/call and they ask I say, well if you can't kill them yourself, I would be happy to either teach you or do it for you when I do mine. and no, no, thank you but I can't charge for that, it is a free service.

    I never advertise anything the USDA people can bug me about, becasue I have been through that already with RAW goat milk. what a pain! and since I am very careful and clean and responsible. IMHO it shouldn't be a problem, but I don't push it to make sure :)

    there are my 2cents :) hope that helps.
     
  16. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oregon is one of the states that requires only USDA processing plants and no state inspected facilities are available except maybe for "custom butchering" for your own personal use and not for resale purposes.

    I have always advised placing ads for LIVE fryer rabbits for sale... it ALWAYS brings inquiries for butchered rabbits, too. If you can't legally sell butchered, just be sure you add in enough to cover your time on the live fryer price and then you can butcher "for free" or show them how to butcher.

    Pat Lamar
     
  17. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We're fortunate here in MO, as there are no regulations at all for rabbit meat. Couldn't find any info on it because it's not regulated. (I double-checked with the Extension to be sure.)

    Poultry sales are fairly unrestricted as well, as long as we sell FROM the farm.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2010
  18. PulpFaction

    PulpFaction Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Pat, I've been putting together puzzle pieces on this all summer and have discovered:

    1) There is a federally funded USDA licensed processing plant here locally that HAS to process my rabbits. (Or chickens, if i so chose to do those, too.)
    2) I did learn about the exemption, but from what I understand that only counts for sales to individuals.
    3) I have at least 4 restaurants, a locally owned small grocery, and a local CSA interested in offering my rabbits to customers provided they are processed in the USDA facility, which meets their "approved" source requirements. :)

    Now it's just a matter of producing the rabbits and finding out what my minimums will be so I can find out what processing will cost and be sure everyone's still interested.

    P.S. Interest was marginal until I emphasized grain fed, colony raised, locally grown rabbits. The local restaurants that focus on healthy and local foods went NUTS over that idea, as did the grocer and the CSA.
     
  19. TedH71

    TedH71 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Rabbits can be grain fed? I thought they ate just rabbit pellets and leafy greens.
     
  20. PulpFaction

    PulpFaction Well-Known Member

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    Well, they mostly consume hay and greens (when in season) but are offered grain as needed. They tend to not eat much of it, preferring the roughage of the other.

    They are said to taste better on this kind of diet. I can't wait to taste my first one. (So far the only rabbits of mine on this diet are breeding stock and small show breeds I probably won't be eating.)