During the 2021 growing season, California ranchers shepherded legislative change along with their livestock.
Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 888 – Mobile slaughter operations: livestock (written by Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-Marin County) into law, which allows goats, sheep, and swine to be slaughtered on the ranch where they were raised—the same opportunity granted to cattle ranchers in 2018 with AB 2114.
Ranchers and a dedicated coalition of stakeholders applied the same care and commitment to AB 888 throughout the legislative process as they do every day on the ranch. From developing bill language during lambing season in the spring and building support during the long days of summer to finding compromise during harvest season in the fall, it was a full team effort.
The California Meat Processing Coalition, part of CCOF’s Meat Matters campaign, examined each version of the bill to ensure the requirements were not burdensome to ranchers or mobile slaughter operators. Ranchers took center stage in advocating for their needs, researchers and extension specialists provided the latest science and best practices, coalition members met with agency and legislative staff to hash out differences, and a broad group wrote letters of support. In Sacramento, Assemblymember Levine and his dedicated staff masterfully navigated the political process and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) streamlined requirements and ensured the program was funded.
With rising consumer interest in how and where meat is produced, demand for organic meat and poultry grew an impressive 25 percent in 2020. On-farm slaughter will help small and organic ranches— those most affected by the meat processing bottleneck—to fulfill rising consumer demand and take advantage of direct marketing opportunities that allow consumers to purchase an animal locally, pay the rancher to care for the animal, and collect the meat after the animal is harvested.
How does AB 888 work?
• Producers can use mobile slaughter services to harvest any number of goats, sheep, swine, or cattle on the ranch where they were raised.
• Producers can sell a live animal to the new owner prior to harvest.
• Producers must register and pay a one-time fee ($100 or less) to CDFA.
• Producers must maintain records for one year, including contact information for the new owner and the purchase price and date.
• Mobile slaughter operators (MSOs) must be licensed as livestock meat inspectors with CDFA, pay an annual licensing fee ($500 or less), and complete annual training as provided by CDFA’s Meat, Poultry and Egg Safety Branch.
• MSOs must maintain records for one year, including number of livestock slaughtered at each location and identification markings (if present) of each livestock slaughtered.
• After slaughter, MSOs must transport the carcass to a registered custom exempt processing facility for cut and wrap. Finished product is labeled as “Not for Sale” and returned to the owner.
• Please note: Registration for this program is NOT yet available. Please visit https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/AHFSS/ for updates.
CCOF and our partners in the California Meat Processing Coalition look forward to building on this effort in the upcoming year as we advocate for broader reforms and investments for California’s meat processing infrastructure. If you are interested in learning more about the California Meat Processing Coalition and CCOF’s Meat Matters campaign or if you have any questions about AB 888 and mobile slaughter, please reach out to Laetitia Benador at firstname.lastname@example.org.