Thank you for your Sept. 27 article about the County Council's discussion to allow slaughterhouses on farmland. As the article explained, our local slaughterhouses can't meet the needs of our meat producers. This requires our farmers to ship livestock to distant counties in the state for slaughter, taking money from our economy and putting unnecessary strain on the farmer's finances. Futurewise Whatcom supports small scale slaughterhouses for all these reasons. But it's critical that the proposed ordinance be improved to include reasonable restrictions to protect water resources.
According to the EPA, the slaughtering process uses between 312 and 601 gallons of water per 1,000 pounds of live animal weight. Even small facilities use a lot of water - water currently used to irrigate crops. Yet, the Council's ordinance lacks review to prevent slaughterhouses from negatively impacting the existing water supply. Futurewise Whatcom urges the Council to require these facilities to be carefully reviewed for water and wastewater concerns through a conditional use process. This same review is required for cottage industries and farmworker housing - activities that have far fewer impacts than slaughterhouses. We hope the Council will amend the ordinance to ensure these facilities' impacts are fully reviewed to protect the health and safety of Whatcom County's residents.