In the two months since Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill (SB) 21-079 to deregulate direct to consumer meat sales, there’s not been any sign of a new industry taking off.  Work on writing rules and drafting animal share agreements may be holding things up.

Polis, a “Food Freedom” advocate since his days representing Colorado in Congress, signed the “Ranch to Plate Act” on April 29 and the new law became immediately effective with his signature. It’s possible that direct sales to consumers are not obvious because the paperwork is taking some time.

The new law allows a person to sell, without licensure, certain animals or animal shares to informed end consumers without regulation or inspection by any public health agency. The scant role for the state, pretty much limited to the State Board of Stock Inspection, does not mean the needed share agreements don’t take time and expertise.

Jim Krantz, South Dakota State University Extension cow-calf field specialist, recently disclosed “11 things that should be in a cow lease/share agreement” with Farm Progress readers. “While many business arrangements have been done on a handshake to the benefit of both parties, there are numerous examples of verbal agreements that have failed because the parties couldn’t agree on exactly what had been agreed to,” Krantz says. “Having things in writing goes a long way to eliminate those problems.”

Cattle, calves, sheep, elk, bison, goats, hogs and rabbits are among the animals for which shares may be sold under the new law. The “informed end consumer,”  meaning the last person to purchase meat by the share without being involved in the resell of the product, isn’t regulated or inspected.

The person making the sale must either give the purchaser a disclosure document or conspicuously display signage to disclose the meat is not subject to license or inspection by any public health agency.

The meat sold must be “delivered directly” by the seller to the informed end-consumer, and all sales are limited to Colorado.

The state’s only role is the requirement for the brand inspector to conduct one inspection before slaughter.  The state Board of Stock Inspection is required to promulgate implementation rules. Those rules have not been released even in draft forms.

And whether Colorado consumers can obtain a larger share of locally-produced meat may come down to slaughter capacity.

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