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Bill would relax labeling requirements for poultry products

BY BRIAN BRUS
THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation that would relax certain labeling restrictions for small poultry products in Oklahoma
would bring the state industry closer in line with federal regulations, state Sen. Ron Sharp said.
Sharp, R-Shawnee, submitted Senate Bill 995 on behalf of producers in his district who feel they are operating at
a disadvantage, he said Friday. He said that if the state fails to update its poultry laws, farmers would be jeopardized
from qualifying for federal funds and contracts.
If approved, SB 995 would provide small farm exemptions from the Poultry Products Inspection Act, as long as
the operation continues to abide by sanitary standards and only if the business processes its own poultry. Under
Public Law 90-492, also known as Poultry Products Inspection Act, for a business to be exempt means processed
poultry does not need to undergo bird-by-bird inspection. The law offers exemptions at two different production sizes,
and individual states can accept one, both or neither.
Most states already have such exemption language on their books. According to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal
Defense Fund, Florida and Louisiana only accept the 20,000-bird exemption, while Wisconsin, Georgia and
Oklahoma only accept the 1,000-bird exemption. The rest of the country accepts both. Under Sharp’s proposal,
Oklahoma would adopt the 20,000 level, too.
“Such poultry products when so distributed bear, in lieu of labeling that would otherwise be required, the
producer's name and address and the statement ‘Exempted – P.L. 90-492,’” SB 995 reads.
Under the bill, the products can still only be sold within the state and only to certain establishments allowed by the
particular exemption they choose.
“A good example of someone who would benefit from this exemption would be a free range, heritage chicken
farm that supplies meat to local farm-to-table restaurants or meat shops, entities that demand a unique product that
larger farm operations don’t offer,” he said
Sharp’s father worked at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture from 1946-1981 and was tasked with
overseeing weights and measures as well as poultry and eggs. He also wrote the administrative rules for the poultry
inspection.

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