NEW “CHICKEN BILL” BECOMES LAW

Gov. Phil Scott signed the new “chicken bill” into law in late May and promoted it at a press event in the NEK on June 12, 2017. The new law, which traveled through the 2017 legislative session as S.9 and is now known as Act 52, both preserves the existing 1000 bird exemption and provides two additional levels of on-farm production, processing, and sale of poultry without inspection: a 5,000-bird exemption and a 20,000-bird exemption. Each new level of production carries additional requirements related to the processes and facilities used for production.

Rural Vermont worked with several poultry producers to improve the bill during the legislative session including Rural Vermont Board member John Lomachinsky of Springmore Farm and Bill Pearce of Hillside Farm and Pearce’s Pastured Poultry in East Albany, VT who was the farmer who originally contacted his legislators, Sens. Bobby Starr and John Rogers, to sponsor the bill.

You can read a summary of the new law here and you can read the complete legislation here. All farmers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the new law and to contact Rural Vermont with any questions.

Rural Vermont was the lead advocate for the passage of the original “chicken bill” back in 2007. This exemption to federal law made it possible for farmers to produce, process and sell up to 1000 poultry – as whole birds only – from the farm, at farmers’ markets, or to restaurants. This law was generally effective in providing a valuable economic opportunity for farms to add diversity to their farm income. The original law was very popular with consumers and led to some producers being restricted by the 1000 bird limit.

Click here to read or download a booklet outlining all the provisions of the new law as well as some suggested best practices. Paper copies of this booklet are also available by contacting Rural Vermont at 802-223-7222 or mailto:info@ruralvermont.org.

Rural Vermont hopes that the 2017 amendment to the law will offer additional economic opportunities for farmers and greater access to healthy locally-produced poultry for all Vermonters. However, as will all laws, how it is implemented and enforced will need to be carefully monitored. Rural Vermont would like to hear from farmers who either are already taking advantage of the new law or are considering it in the future to learn about how it is working for you and what questions or concerns you may have. Please contact Graham.