DOAG: AGRICULTURAL LICENSES PROTECT HUMANS, ANIMALS, AND THE ENVIRONMENT



August 1, 2018

AGRICULTURAL LICENSES PROTECT HUMANS, ANIMALS, AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Paula Butler, Licensing Specialist, Office of the Commissioner

 

No one has ever been excited about having to get a license, but understanding the reasons behind the licenses and their associated fees can make the process a little more bearable. 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) licenses businesses and individuals to help protect and enhance the health and welfare of the general public, animals, and the environment.

DoAg’s licensing unit processes more than 25 different types of agricultural licenses, including dairy, commercial feed and fertilizer, pet facilities, and even poultry slaughter facilities. 

Approximately 6,500 licenses and permits are processed each year, and the fees collected help to protect both the human and animal populations of Connecticut. 

A number of DoAg’s licenses apply to the care and safety of domestic animals.  Whether purchasing a cat or dog from a pet store, or entrusting a pet to a commercial kennel or grooming shop, pet owners can be confident that licensed facilities have been inspected for cleanliness, safety, and zoning conformance. Using an unlicensed facility offers none of these assurances.

All entities that transport cats and dogs into Connecticut are required to be registered as animal importers. The regulations require the importers to file a notice with DoAg detailing the animals to be transported and their destination before the cats and dogs are brought into Connecticut.

The importers must submit health certificates for each animal, which certify that the animal has been examined by a veterinarian within the prior 30 days, is free of disease, and in good health.  Importers who are not licensed are subject to fines and/or arrest.  Adoption of these regulations has reduced the number of animals entering our state with serious and expensive health issues. 

As of October 1, 2017, all animal shelters must be licensed by DoAg.  State animal control officers are inspecting these shelters for sanitation, disease, and humane treatment of companion pets.  By licensing and inspecting these facilities, DoAg is protecting often vulnerable animals that cannot speak for themselves.

In order to guarantee the safety of milk products, DoAg licenses and regulates the entire process from farm to retail store.  Milk samples from producing farms are shipped to labs and tested for bacteria, antibiotics, and milk quality.  The lab reports are reviewed by dairy inspectors, who follow up with farms to correct any violations.

Tankers that transport milk are also licensed by DoAg and are inspected regularly.  Employees of the milk transport companies that take milk samples and conduct onsite tests of the milk are licensed as milk examiners.  Evaluated biennially by DoAg inspectors, these milk examiners verify that the milk being delivered is absent of any antibiotics.

In-state plants that process raw milk into pasteurized milk, yogurt, and cream are also licensed, and are frequently inspected for product safety and equipment function.

Finally, DoAg employees inspect the retail stores that sell milk products, checking for such things as cleanliness, appropriate cooler temperature, and expired products.

The DoAg licensing unit also registers almost 10,000 commercial feed products. Labels are reviewed to determine if the products meet federally approved guidelines that protect consumers and their pets.

In the event of a recall, DoAg has the ability to determine if the affected products are offered for sale in Connecticut. 

The same review process is used for commercial fertilizer, soil amendments, and liming materials.

Recent changes to Connecticut’s fertilizer law restrict the use of phosphate. This change has helped to limit the effects of fertilizer runoff, including increased algae in nearby bodies of water.

These algae blooms eliminate oxygen, and can be fatal to fish and harmful to humans that consume the tainted fish. 

Livestock and poultry dealers are also required to be licensed, in part to assure that all animals imported into Connecticut have the proper health certificates.

This helps to protect the health and welfare of livestock and avian species from the introduction and spread of infectious and contagious diseases, including those transmissible to the human population. 

In the event of a disease outbreak, DoAg can trace the impacted animals to protect other animals and humans from possible infection. 

The poultry slaughter program was introduced in 2011 as a way for state turkey and chicken farmers to sell slaughtered birds to food service providers and retail stores. 

This program is limited to farms that slaughter fewer than 20,000 chickens and/or 5,000 turkeys per year, and is modeled after the USDA’s exempt poultry slaughter program. 

The poultry slaughter program allows fresh, local birds to be sold in markets and restaurants across the state.

In 2010 DoAg joined with other Connecticut agencies in a statewide licensing system that not only increases productivity but also allows consumers and businesses to apply for and renew most agency licenses online.   

A useful feature of this enterprise system is the Online Roster and License Lookup.  This tool allows residents to obtain real-time listings of Connecticut licensed individuals and businesses. 

The directory includes more than 250 job and business categories.  The website is a collaborative effort of DoAg, the Department of Consumer Protection, the Department of Public Health, and the Office of Early Childhood. 

Not only can consumers check to see that their local convenience store is licensed to sell milk, they can also ensure that their electrician or barber is properly licensed as well.  Residents wishing to access the eLicensing website can do so at www.elicense.ct.gov.  

For more information about DoAg licensing matters contact the licensing unit at 860-713-2512.