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A poorly conceived policy

05/03/2007

By Jeff Resnick

As a former supermarket executive I have been watching the interesting scenario about our "beloved chicken" who is not being allowed to cross the road. The Mad River Valley localvore group with the support of Rep. Carol Hosford is trying with some degree of success to get the legislature to pass a bill to allow Vermont to be the only state in the union to allow uninspected poultry on their menu.

They claim, wrongly, that other states allow same; however, they have done incomplete, sloppy and somewhat deceptive research. While other state's departments of agriculture might permitted uninspected chicken on the menu, the respective departments of health, who are the deciding entity in this permitting process, do not allow uninspected chicken.

Randy Quenneville the director of the Vermont Meat Inspection Department, has confirmed same, "It depends upon who you ask." The Vermont Department of Health has also testified that they believe uninspected chicken to be detrimental to state's health standards. Remarks by the governor are also negative to allow uninspected chicken on the menu.

Now the statement that Misty Knoll can't keep up with their demand: I have never had a problem trying to purchase Misty Knoll product at Hunger Mountain Co-op or any other co-op in the state that carries this line on a regular basis. Misty Knoll started small too, and then became large enough to hire or pay for the appropriate inspection processes. That inspection process, as all inspections, may not be perfect, but it's better than nothing in this writer's experiences.

Opening up the flood gates and allowing hundreds or thousands of farmers to sell uninspected poultry to restaurants is a poorly conceived policy that will ultimately put an undue burden on the state's limited inspection staff. This state has little inspection or regulatory authority now, the consumer will ultimately pay the increased burden of this unconscionable action. The articles of H.522, that address a mobile slaughtering facility provide a good and constructive alternative with a rational and realistic approach.

Jeffrey M. Resnick lives in Warren.
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