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Mon, Dec 18, 2017 08:44 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
Kentucky farmers get new way to make money

FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s farmers will have the opportunity to grow, harvest and process food products to sell at farmers’ markets, certified roadside stands and from the processor’s farm when legislation passed by the 2003 General Assembly takes effect on July 1.

“Kentucky’s farm families will benefit from this new law because it gives them additional ways to make money from their produce,” said Dr. Rice Leach, Commissioner for the Department for Public Health, “Farm families along with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service Office, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the local health departments, the Kentucky Farm Bureau and the Cabinet for Health Services have formed a partnership to promote and support the production and marketing of Kentucky grown and processed foods.”

As outlined in House Bill 391, Kentucky farmers who grow and harvest food products may process the product in the farm home or as always, utilize a kitchen or community kitchen permitted by the Department for Public Health (DPH) in the Cabinet for Health Services.

The primary sponsor of HB 391, Representative Charlie Hoffman of Georgetown said, “This law will be a perfect match between farmers and gardeners who love selling their home-processed food products and those who love buying them.

Not only will it increase the growing popularity of these products, it should also add to the bottom line of those who make them. In these days of dwindling farm income, that certainly is a good thing.”

The new law requires accurate product labeling because people may be allergic to certain ingredients in food. Home-based processors must make sure the food product label lists all ingredients and includes the statement: “This product is home-produced and processed,” Guy Delius; Assistant Director for DPKs Division of Public Health Protection and Safety, said, “The new regulation will allow Kentucky family farms and farmers to use the crops they grow to make some special foods for sale at farmers’ markets, certified roadside stands and from the farm.”

Farmers must be registered or certified with DPH prior to processing and marketing their food products. Home-based processor registrations and home-based microprocessor certifications which may be renewed annually, will expire each March 31st. An application for a home-based processor and home-based microprocessor may be obtained from the Department for Public Health website at http://chs.ky.gov/publichealthyFood-Program.htm, at local health departments, or from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service offices. The application and required information should be returned to DPH or the local health department.

Once registered with the Department, home-based processors may process whole fruits and vegetables, mixed-greens, jams, jellies, sweet sorghum syrup, preserves, fruit butter, fruit pies, cakes, cookies or bread in their farm kitchen. “An example of this is a farmer that grows and harvests apples may now be able to make apple pies for sale at farmers’ markets,” Delius said.

Home-based microprocessors will be required to be certified by DPH and may grow, harvest and process acid foods, formulated acid food products, acidified food products, or low-acid canned foods, with a net income of less than $35,000 annually from the sale of the products. Home-based microprocessors will be required to successfully complete a food processing course provided by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, have each recipe reviewed and approved by a Processing Authority, and submit each proposed food product label for review by the Department for Public Health.

The University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, will offer “Home Canning Basics” training for home-based processors during the month of July. Dr. Sandra Bastia Food and Nutrition Specialist with the University of Kentucky, said. “Home-based microprocessors who make salsa, pickles, relishes or other acidified foods for sale, will have to wait a bit longer to offer their products at markets.”

The first “Home-Based Microprocessor Workshop” will be offered in August, as well as several additional training sites across the state. Farmers interested in taking either training course may e-mail Dr. Bastin at sbastin@uky.edu or she may be reached at (859) 257-1812.

Food products processed by home-based processors and home-based microprocessors may not be used or offered for consumption in retail food establishments, by Internet sales, or sold in interstate commerce. Some foods, such as creme-filled pies, custard, custard pies, pies with meringue topping, cheesecake, cream, custard and meringue pastries, raw seed sprouts and garlic-in-oil mixtures, foods vacuum packaged in containers other than mason-type jars, and canned, pureed baby foods cannot be made by these processors because of the potential health hazards associated with them.

Additional questions regarding the growing and processing of food for sale at farmers’ markets, certified roadside stands or from the farm should be directed to the DPH Food Safety Branch at (502) 564-7181.

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