Routt County closer to finalizing new regulations on farm and ranch food-processing operations | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County closer to finalizing new regulations on farm and ranch food-processing operations

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday to approve a new set of regulations governing the practice of farmers and ranchers processing produce and other non-meat products on their land for direct sale to consumers. The new additions to the Routt County zoning regulations also would describe how agriculturalists can operate produce stands within the county.

All three commissioners expressed satisfaction with the proposed regulations that have been adapted and revised throughout a series of months by the Routt County Planning Commission under the leadership of county planning staff member Alan Goldich.

"It turned out to be a little more complicated than what we thought it would be," Commissioner Tim Corrigan said Monday.

"But it's been worthwhile," Commissioner Doug Monger quickly added.

If the commissioners vote Tuesday to approve the new regulations, it won't be until the language has been formalized and adopted as a resolution before they become official.

The issue has come to the forefront here in the context of the national locovore movement which has seen consumers and restaurants seek food produced closer to home. Routt County has an unusually short growing season of fewer than 45 days, but there has been interest across the county from people interested in selling lettuce, cheese and potatoes, among other items.

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The new regulations for value-added agriculture processing facilities describe several levels of operations based on their size and the kinds of permits they must have. Requirements include that the facility must be operated by the owner or tenant of the farm or ranch. All federal, state and local permits must be obtained and complied with, and all laws must be followed.

For example, farm stands won't be allowed to be built where customers would pull over on the side of the road. Instead, the proprietor must provide access to his or her property and sufficient parking.

The new regulations also will regulate agritourism enterprises in Routt County and provide standards for a greenhouse or nursery with retail sales.

Goldich said the new regulations would allow proprietors of farm stands to also sell items that are incidental to food stuffs but still tied to the operation: caps and T-shirts bearing the logo of the business, for example.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

If you go

What: Routt County Board of Commissioners vote on proposed farm stand regulations

When: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

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