I have started to investigate what it would mean to get serious about lamb sales. The first thing is: licenses. It appears to me that to market my lamb in New York, beyond selling to friends, I will need at least one license, and possibly several. My internet friend Jessika, in Maine, who sells pork, has helped tremendously as I’ve struggled to grasp the legalities. She tells me she has one state meat license for retail sales, one for wholesale sales, and one as a mobile vendor for farmer’s markets. (This doesn’t even touch all the licenses she needs for her milk and milk products.) All states are different in their requirements.
I spent an hour on the telephone yesterday with a nice gentleman in the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. It was discouraging. He told me that if I bring meat home to store it in a freezer for later sale, instead of driving it directly from the slaughterhouse to a retail store, I would need a “warehouse” license. Even if my “warehouse” is a pair of chest freezers. A warehouse license is $400.
I explained to him that in my little operation (selling fewer than a dozen lambs a year) that would eat all my profits. He said cheerfully, “But you could have a thousand cows in your freezers with that same license.” The fact that I don’t have a thousand cows didn’t seem to matter.
I will have to study the laws further. I’ve printed out a 150-page guide from the Cornell Small Farms website for bedtime reading. After just a quick glance at the densely printed pages I can see this booklet may solve my insomnia problem.
Meanwhile I will also need official USDA labels. To have a label, I will need a farm logo.
A logo! This is a little more fun to think about.
I’ve seen beautiful logos and labels. I really admire Jessika’s milk and pork labels. She had her artist’s rendition of her logo printed by Grower’s Discount Labels, which has a nice gallery to browse. Jessika’s milk and pork labels are variations on the same theme. The milk features a Jersey cow, rather than a pig.
I also admire the logo of Alan Zuschlag’s Touchstone Farm in Virginia. Alan is one of the top breeders of Clun Forest sheep in the country. You can see I like the old-fashioned look.
Someday I will get an artist to design a logo for me. It would be silly to invest in it now, when I’m selling on such a tiny scale. It would be better to spend any money I can possibly scrape up on more fencing, more lime, or a tractor.
But because I’m taking some of my lamb to an event, this morning I threw together a quick postcard-size label.
I am not artistic. This effort was literally cut and pasted on my kitchen counter (on a scrap of red oaktag; I don’t have a color printer). As you can see, in my haste it ended up slightly crooked.
I know my eventual logo will have to be very different, will need to more prominently feature the farm name, and any label will have to provide a lot more information. Not to mention, will need not to be drawn with a Sharpie marker! But for now it will have to do.