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 – Commercial grade (heavier duty, upright or chest, or walk-in); must be in good condition (no rusting or deterioration of interior seals and lining). 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
The narrative plan describes 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: Facility and Process Review
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: Submit Plan
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
SMADC staff is available to advise and guide you through all the steps listed above. For information and assistance please contact Susan McQuilkin at: (240) 528-8850.
Marketing Farm Raised Meat
Looking for ways to market your Southern Maryland farm-raised meats? Learn more about SMADC’s Southern Maryland Meats program.
Commercial Meat Freezer Trailers
Used to transport locally raised (USDA slaughtered, vacuum packed and frozen) meat cuts directly from the slaughter facility to the farm for sale to consumers, restaurants and stores. Available to any livestock producer in the five counties of Southern Maryland. Managing entities for the freezer trailers are Calvert County Farm Bureau, St. Mary’s County Farm Bureau and Prince George’s County Farm Bureau.
To find out more and how you can use the trailers, please contact the following:
Anne Arundel and Prince George’s
Norma Fitzhugh, (301) 868-8780
JR Cosgrove, (443) 532-5763
Charles and St. Mary’s County
Willie Goddard, (301) 475-5190