Permit rules around selling eggs

Farmaholic

Active member
Oct 7, 2023
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It's that time of year again. The time when farming stores and co-ops begin selling baby chicks to the public, and numerous articles spring up about making extra money by raising hens and selling their eggs. I thought I'd touch on a subject that many people get wrong when they're making assumptions about selling the eggs from their backyard chickens. Many people believe that no permit is required if they're just selling casually, and sometimes this is correct. That's especially true if you're selling from your home, because there's a belief that the customer has a chance to inspect your operation and should know what they're getting. However, it's important to note that some governments do require a permit no matter how the eggs are sold, and fines can be pretty steep if you're caught without one. You might need a permit from your state's Department of Agriculture, which is often called a Food Establishment Permit. Someone from the agency may do an inspection before issuing the permit, so you need to be prepared for that. Other states, like Tennessee, do not have this requirement, but the same department is still a good starting point for research. Additionally, you might need a permit to sell your eggs at a roadside stand or at the farmers market. Likewise, if you're making food or other goods with your eggs, you may be required to obtain a Food Handlers Permit, or something to that effect. Like I said earlier, the regulations will vary by locality, but it's important to know what you're getting into before you invest in backyard chickens.

What's it like in your area? Are the permits and licenses affordable? Are the regulations stringent or light?
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It sounds awfully complicated in some states. I guess they're worried about spreading salmonella or diseases between flocks. Luckily, in Minnesota, it's relatively easy to sell your eggs on a casual basis directly to the consumer. There's no need for a food handler's license, and there's no inspection. There are more hoops to jump through if you're selling to a restaurant or bakery. Now, some local municipalities have regulations about how the chickens must be housed, and they charge permit fees for raising backyard chickens in some cities, too.
 
I can't say that I've ever been interested in raising chickens, but I looked into it since you asked, and in Pennsylvania you can only sell the eggs from your flock out of your home or within 100-miles of a processing or production facility, whatever those are. If you sell them elsewhere, you need a retail license. Regulations are more stringent for those who have 3,000 or more hens, but I doubt those people are who you meant.
 
Growing up in Michigan we had a neighbor who always sold eggs from their house. They'd put a cooler out front with a sign advertising the price ($3/dozen). It was all honor system-based. You'd open the cooler and take a dozen eggs and then put the cash in a little drop box in the cooler. Not sure if a permit was required but it was one of those operations that was so small scale and among neighbors who knew/trusted each other (like a lemonade stand) that I'm sure no one gave government involvement a passing thought.

I researched this for California (where I now live) and understand that "community food producers" are allowed to sell up to 15 dozen unrefrigerated shell eggs per month. All you have to do is register with the CDFW Egg Safety and Quality Management Program. What's nice is that community food producers aren't subject to routine inspections. Inspections are only conducted in response to food safety recalls or complaints. Otherwise, community food producers just have to maintain records of eggs sold within the past 30 days.

Some local jurisdictions also have their own registration requirements for community food producers (e.g., this form for San Diego County), so that's something else to look out for if you plan on selling eggs in California.
 
Anything that has to do with something like eggs, or anything to do with food, you will likely need various permits or even licenses in some locations. You also have to consider the legalities of owning a chicken for harvesting eggs, there may be requirements with how many you can own, and you may need to be licensed in some areas to care for such animals.

Here in Wisconsin, it depends on the scale of production, and that goes by the amount of birds you have. If you have 150 or fewer, it's considered a small scale production. You cannot sell to retailers or wholesalers, you must sell directly to the consumer. You will also be required a transient retail food establishment license to sell at farmers’ markets and on egg sales routes. But you may be exempt from needing a food processing plant license. The opposite of that is if you have more than 150 birds, you will need that license.

You also have to follow quality control for the food, as in keep it a certain temp at all times and other aspects of the care process.

I found this info for Wisconsin below:
 
Permit rules for selling eggs vary according to location and seller type. In many places, small-scale egg sellers are usually exempted from permits if they are directly selling to consumers or at the local markets. However, larger operations or those selling to retailers may require permits to ensure food safety standards are met.
 
Growing up in Michigan we had a neighbor who always sold eggs from their house. They'd put a cooler out front with a sign advertising the price ($3/dozen). It was all honor system-based. You'd open the cooler and take a dozen eggs and then put the cash in a little drop box in the cooler. Not sure if a permit was required but it was one of those operations that was so small scale and among neighbors who knew/trusted each other (like a lemonade stand) that I'm sure no one gave government involvement a passing thought.

I researched this for California (where I now live) and understand that "community food producers" are allowed to sell up to 15 dozen unrefrigerated shell eggs per month. All you have to do is register with the CDFW Egg Safety and Quality Management Program. What's nice is that community food producers aren't subject to routine inspections. Inspections are only conducted in response to food safety recalls or complaints. Otherwise, community food producers just have to maintain records of eggs sold within the past 30 days.

Some local jurisdictions also have their own registration requirements for community food producers (e.g., this form for San Diego County), so that's something else to look out for if you plan on selling eggs in California.
Yeah usually someone selling a small amount would be fine, I doubt the government would make a fuss about it. But I know if you want to make it a full time job, or your focus, you may need to obtain some licenses or permits. I did a quick search for the rules in Michigan, and it looks like permits aren't required, but I think you need a license to sell and to handle eggs.

I hear though, that if you harvest eggs from 3,000 or less chickens, you might not need a license, so long as you only sell directly to the consumer. So at like a farmers market where you sell your own supply.
 
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