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How to Apply for the Maryland On-Farm Processor License for Farm-Raised Meats

A Maryland FarmLINK Assistance Guide

The Maryland on-farm processor license is one of the most profitable ways for producers of farm-raised meats to make the most of their value-added meat sales. Licensed on-farm producers can sell their USDA-slaughtered and processed meat products on the farm premises to individual customers, and/or transport their meats from their (on-farm) freezer storage for sale to restaurants, stores and other retail venues or farmers’ markets. NOTE: Further licensing is required for farmers’ market sales. See this document for more info.

Important note! To be eligible for the on-farm processor license, all the livestock you produce that is intended for sale as meat (beef, pork, lamb, goat, poultry, rabbit, etc.), must be raised, fed and managed on your farm. Read the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Guidelines for on-farm processing for meat and poultry.

MDA Rabbit and Poultry Slaughter Certification Program. The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) offers a voluntary certification program in which participants are permitted to sell their poultry and rabbits anywhere intrastate (within the state) to restaurants and retailers. An additional license from DHMH (Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) or local health department is required to sell at farmers’ markets.

Step 1: What you need to apply for the on-farm processor license:

  • A copy of your tax assessment or a letter from your county that verifies your property is zoned for agricultural operations.
  • Verification from your local Zoning Department and Health Department that your proposed storage area (particularly purpose built shed or walk-in refrigerator) is in compliance with county permitting requirements. (Freezers may be located in the domestic residence located on the farm, farm store or other farm outbuildings located on the farm property).
  • A freezer – upright, chest or walk-in; must be in good condition (no rusting or deterioration of interior seals and lining). Commercial grade (heavier duty) NSF certification is recommended, but not mandatory. The location of the freezer must be secure; the freezer must be lockable, or be secured with chain/padlock. Food intended for your personal use may not be stored in your dedicated ‘meats’ freezer.
  • A thermometer or temperature recording device (data logger) is needed to record the temperature of your freezer daily to ensure your freezer remains at 0° or below for frozen meats.

Step 2: Write a narrative plan describing how you intend to transport and store your meats. See a sample narrative plan HERE. (This sample narrative can be used as a template for your own farm plan. Simply insert your unique operation/farm details.)

Step 3: Complete the Facility and Process Review - Plan Review Submission Form. Complete all applicable fields. NOTE: select ‘New Process’ for Project Description section; select the last 3 items for ‘Retail/Processing’ section – these are described in your narrative plan. NO FEE is required for on-farm processing plan review submissions.

Step 4: Mail the ‘Plan Review Submission Form’ with your supporting documents (a) narrative plan (b) verification of agricultural zoning and (c) verification of intended use to:

Center for Facility and Process Reviews, DHMH,
6, St. Paul Street, Suite 1301, Baltimore, MD 21202

Please allow at least 2/3 weeks for your plan review submission to be evaluated.

Step 5: Schedule a freezer inspection
Following the evaluation of your plan submission, you will be notified to contact the DHMH inspector in your area to schedule a freezer inspection. Please ensure your freezer is installed and fully operable before the inspection date.

Pending a successful inspection, you will be issued a copy of the inspection report and a ‘Food Processing Plant Application’ on site by the visiting DHMH inspector. NOTE: Re-inspection may be necessary if corrections are noted on the inspection review report. Your approval letter and license application will be issued when you have completed the corrections.

Step 6: Complete the Food Processing Plant Application
Complete the ‘Food Processing Plant Application’ and submit with the $30 fee to the address on the form. An approval letter and license will be mailed to you confirming that you are permitted to begin storage and sale of your farm-raised meats.

License renewal and DHMH inspections:
The on-farm processor license is renewed annually pending verification of your current inspection status. On-farm processors may be inspected up to 2 times annually prior to the renewal date of their license.

For questions and additional DHMH information contact:
Lisa Staley
Chief, Center for Facility and Process Review
Office of Food Protection 
Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DHMH)
6 St. Paul Street, Ste. 1301, Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-767-8407
Fax:  410-333-8931
http://ideha.dhmh.maryland.gov

SMADC staff is available to guide you through all the steps listed above:
Susan McQuilkin
301-274-1922, Ex. 1
smcquilkin@smadc.com

Looking for ways to market your Southern Maryland farm-raised meats? Learn more about the Southern Maryland Meats initiative at www.southernmarylandmeats.com.

 

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If you have any suggestions for improving this assistance guide, please e-mail info@marylandfarmlink.com.

 

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