Montana Department of Livestock

Here to serve the people of Montana and its livestock industry.

Meat & Poultry Inspection Frequently Asked Questions


Meat Poultry FAQs
Question:   I raise my own beef.  Can I slaughter it and sell it to the public at my ranch?

No.  Only livestock slaughtered and processed under USDA or state inspection may be sold to consumers or donated.  A retail license from the county is required to sell direct to consumers.

Question: People love my jerky.  Can I sell it online?

No.  Only meat or poultry products made under a local health authority (health department) or produced under inspection may be sold.  The facility (kitchen) must be licensed.

Question: I am processing wild game in my garage.  Can I do a couple hogs for my friend?
Answer: No.  You must be licensed to process any livestock, meeting sanitation and record keeping requirements.
Question: Where can I find guidance for the building of a meat processing facility? 

The state nor USDA provides specs or plans for building a facility as there are many variables depending upon your production and/or slaughter goals.

You can find some answers from: Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network

This older document published in the 1997 Federal Register may also be helpful:  Facility Guide for Meat Processing Plants

Question: Where can I find the regulations for inspection services?
Question: I had several lambs and a beef processed at a custom exempt plant.  It is more than my family needs right now.  Can I sell that product, or give to local food bank?
Answer: No.  Custom exempt product is to be labeled “Not For Sale”.  It may not be sold or even donated.  It is processed solely for the owner’s own consumption.
Question: I have my beef slaughtered and processed at a state (or USDA) inspection plant.  All packages have the mark of inspection.  The bar down the road wants to buy it for serving burgers.  What do I need to be able to sell it to them legally?
Answer: If you are not going to sell direct to consumers you do not need a retail license.  If you only want to sell to this bar or a couple restaurants you would need only a meat depot storage license to meet the requirements of ARMS rule 32.6.702.


Question: Can I buy ground beef, steaks, cured meats from Costco in bulk and re-package it and sell it?

Not without state or federal inspection. 


Question: Do I need inspection services?

See this flowchart guide.


Question: Are my product sales exempt from inspection services?

See this flowchart guide.

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