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AGO 1954 No. 232 - April 02, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


1. Meat inspection does not apply to carcasses of meat food animals slaughtered under custom slaughterer's license, because custom slaughterer slaughters only for farmer's own consumption.

2. Fact that law exempts carcasses of meat food animals slaughtered under custom slaughterer's license from meat inspection cannot be ground for refusal of such license.

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                                                                    April 2, 1954

Honorable Lawrence Hickman
Prosecuting Attorney
Whitman County
Colfax, Washington                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 232

Dear Sir:

            By letter, previously acknowledged, you have requested the opinion of this office upon two questions, which we have paraphrased for convenience as follows:

            1. Are the carcasses of animals slaughtered under a custom slaughterer's license subject to the same inspection as are those slaughtered under a retail slaughterer's license?

            2. If the answer to the first question is "no," is the non-application [[(nonapplication]]of such inspection to carcasses slaughtered under a custom license grounds for refusal to issue such license?


            In our opinion the answer to both questions is "No."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            1. RCW 16.48.097 1953 Supp., provides:

            "All carcasses or parts of carcasses which have been slaughtered by a custom slaughterer for the farmer's own consumption shall be marked by roll stamping the full length of each half and quarter of the carcass with the words 'not inspected' in letters not less than three‑eighths of an inch in height, and by any other identification method found necessary by the director to insure adequate identification for law enforcement purposes, and no person shall sell or transport such meat unless marked as provided herein."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Presumably the legislature intended the required legend, "not inspected" to represent factual truth.  That legend must be imprinted upon all carcasses, or parts thereof, derived from meat food animals dispatched by custom slaughterers for a farmer's own consumption.  Therefore, no such carcasses, or part thereof, is subject to inspection.

            This, however, is the only exemption we find in the statutes respecting custom slaughterers.  It thus remains to be determined whether or not the practice of a licensed custom slaughterer may lawfully be conducted upon meat food animals whose demise is desired for purposes other than the farmer's own consumption.  If so, inspection might be a prerequisite to the maintenance of such an operation to that extent; if not, the exemption is complete.

            The scope of the permission granted by a custom slaughterer's license is defined by RCW 16.48.095 1953 Supp., which now provides in relevant part as follows:

            "Any person, firm or corporation engaged in custom slaughtering for farmers on their own farmsor from a permanent location or from a fixed place of business shall secure from the director of agriculture an annual license to operate as a custom slaughterer and pay an annual license fee of twenty-five dollars.  Farm slaughtering by a licensed custom slaughterer shall be limited to slaughtering animals for the farmer's own consumption.  * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Excepting the phrase first underscored, which was added in 1953, the foregoing sets out verbatim the prior law.  Before 1953, custom slaughtering was confined to that done on farms, for the farmers' own consumption.  The question then arises, did the addition of the phrase mentioned authorize slaughter under custom license other than for the farmer's own consumption?

            Had that been the legislative intent, the categories of custom and retail slaughterer would have become to a considerable degree synonymous.  See RCW 16.48.090.  The reference to custom killing for farmers therein was deleted by section 1 of the original Senate Bill 423; but the bill was amended before passage to remove the deletion, leaving that section unchanged.  Journal of the Senate, 1953, p. 583.  The tenor of that history indicates a legislative intent to preserve in licensed retail slaughterers the custom farm trade in slaughter other than for the farmers' own consumption.

            This interpretation retains the clear demarcation between custom and retail slaughterers as it existed before 1953, and yet gives full effect to the new language allowing custom slaughter to be accomplished from a permanent location or fixed abattoir as well as upon the farm.

            We do not think the phrase "farm slaughtering," carried without change from the old section into the new, mitigates against that conclusion.  We feel rather that it refers to the operation of custom slaughtering as a whole, whether here or there.

            We conclude that a custom slaughterer's license authorizes slaughter only for the farmers' own consumption; and that carcasses of meat food animals so slaughtered by such licensees are not subject to inspection.

            2. Inasmuch as carcasses slaughtered by a licensed custom slaughterer are not subject to inspection as a matter of law, it must follow that this state of the law cannot be a ground for refusal of a custom slaughterer's license.

            We hope the foregoing discussion will illuminate this problem for those concerned in your county.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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